||‘Queer Eye’ for The Beatles? Brian Epstein’s story is being developed for a Bravo TV series.
The U.S. TV network that featured the “Fab Five,” as the cast of the popular “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” show was known, will develop a series on the man who created and shaped the Fab Four, Brian Epstein, it was announced this week. The project is a live-action adaptation of the 2013 award-winning graphic novel, “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story,” by bestselling author and award-winning theater producer Vivek J. Tiwary.
Tiwary, a multiplatform storyteller, will write the adaptation and serve as co-executive producer on the limited series for Bravo Media, the network also famous for “Top Chef” and “The Real Housewives” franchises. What Bravo brings to the table is passion, said Tiwary in a phone interview. “They built their brand and reputation off programs that are very sensitive to the LGBTQ community. We want it to be aspirational, and they agreed that their audiences wanted an inspiring story… that ‘anything is possible’ type of story, and that is what ‘The Fifth Beatle’ is all about.”
Having studied Epstein for about 25 years, Tiwary sees him as a cultural outsider – whether it was being Jewish in a time of pervasive anti-Semitism, or being homosexual when it was not acceptable (illegal, in fact), or even being from Liverpool, which had “no history of cultural influence,” he said. “As an Indian kid who didn’t want to be an engineer, it was the idea that this person’s life carried a message that no dream is impossible, and anyone can dream it. That was a revelation, and what attracted me to his story as well,” said Tiwary. Brian’s is the story of the man who “had to hide his own love away while spreading the message of love throughout the world” by amplifying all that the Beatles were about, he added.
Despite the rich, vivid, award-winning artwork in his graphic novel, this TV version of “The Fifth Beatle” will be a live-action presentation, not an animated piece. “From the beginning, I wanted to do a film or TV show, and it was always supposed to be live action. It’s an extension of the story … and not a storyboard for the film,” Tiwary said.
The medium is not the point; it’s the storytelling and accessibility of the story that is important to Tiwary. “Why I chose a graphic novel as the book version is to reach more people… I could have written a 300-page piece of prose, but in today’s busy day and age, I wouldn’t capture audiences who weren’t dedicated Beatles fans,” he said.
Tiwary’s objective in telling the story of the enigmatic and entrepreneurial Beatles manager who discovered the Beatles in The Cavern Club and helped guide them to worldwide stardom is what he calls “a mission to get as many people to tune in as possible, and for those who know about the Beatles to also know Brian’s story.”
By gaining interest from a network like Bravo TV, Tiwary believes he can build more awareness of who Brian was, and the impact he made. Much of that will be assisted by the music of The Beatles being utilized in the TV series. This project is the only Beatles-related biopic that has secured access to the John Lennon-Paul McCartney song catalog. The soundtrack is expected to span 1961-67, from when Brian discovered the band, and then worked to shape their image, up until his untimely death from a drug overdose at age 32.
“It’s arguably the greatest songbook of all time,” said Tiwary. “People coming to this material are excited to learn about what Brian did for the Beatles that was so experimental. They are going to want to hear the sitars and tablas. It took me three and a half years to negotiate the deal, but it was well worth spending the time to make that happen.”
In addition to that, Tiwary is currently working on producing a musical using Alanis Morissette’s music, entitled “Jagged Little Pill,” which will premiere at the American Repertory Theater in Boston this summer. The piece, about a modern family facing today’s social issues and featuring the singer-songwriter’s music, including some newly written material, may make it to Broadway, like his adaptation of Green Day’s “American Idiot” did in 2010. (more information on https://jaggedlittlepill.com)
Also this summer, Tiwary plans to attend the Fest for Beatles Fans, as he has every year since the book has been released, to update fans on the project. To learn more about The Fifth Beatle, visit https://thefifthbeatle.com.
Published by Dark Horse Comics, “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story” was written by Vivek J. Tiwary with art by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker.
Congrats to our friend Vivik on this monumental step that Beatle fans are sure to love. Special thanks to Margot Winick for this story and her exclusive interview with the author.