NBC's The Beatles series likely won't happen thanks to music rights and another project

By Daniel S Levine,

Earlier this month, it was reported that NBC is developing an event series based on The Beatles’ story, but it looks like the peacock network may have a few stumbling blocks keeping it from happening.

Back on June 13, Deadline reported that The Tudors creator Michael Hirst and Tudors executive producers Ben Silverman and Teri Weinberg are in the early stages of talks with NBC about the project. It would run eight episodes, but exactly what part of the Fab Four’s career it will cover is unknown.

We might never get to figure that out, though. Billboard noted that there’s a big reason why Hollywood has made so few forays into making a Beatles biopic or TV series: music rights. Getting the rights to use Beatles tracks is very expensive. For example, David Chase had to pay $250,000 per song to use four tracks in Not Fade Away (2012). Not only was that movie not about the Beatles, but those four songs weren’t ones published by Sony/ATV Music.

Sony/ATV and Sony TV are actually planning its own Beatles project and Marty Bandier, the CEO of the publishing company, said that NBC never approached them about their project. Bandier said that they were looking at hiring Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) to work on the series and proposed that it would air on HBO or Showtime.

Bandier hasn’t approached the surviving members of the Beatles and neither has NBC. A source told Billboard that NBC doesn’t have likeness rights from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the estates of George Harrison and John Lennon.

"NBC couldn't produce a show without the songs, and we can't produce a show without approaching the Beatles for their likeness rights,” Bandier said.

Sony Pictures TV didn’t comment on the report. NBC did tell Billboard that the news report on its project was premature.

image courtesy of ACE/INFphoto.com



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