Proposed Beatles TV Series Hits Snag
Only a week after it was reported to have been in development, the proposed NBC television series about the Beatles has already been dealt a potentially crushing blow. As it turns out, the publisher of nearly all of their songs wants to do something similar.
As Marty Bandier, who, as chairman of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, controls the rights to all-but six songs that were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, told Billboard, "About six months ago, we were working with Sony Pictures TV on a show centered around the journey of the Beatles, and at one point we were talking about working with Baz Luhrmann."
The question of merging the two projects does not appear to be a potential solution. Bandier specified that he is looking for a premium cable channel, such as HBO or Showtime, rather than a broadcast network for the series.
If a deal with Sony/ATV could not be reached, NBC would be restricted to the six Lennon-McCartney songs not owned by Sony/ATV, George Harrison's compositions and the covers they recorded -- provided they could secure the rights with their respective publishers. NBC would also have to secure the likeness rights from McCartney, Ringo Starr and the Lennon and Harrison estates.
ATV Music Publishing bought the rights to Northern Songs, the publishers of Lennon-McCartney's catalog in 1968. The company was famously bought by Michael Jackson in 1985, who merged it with Sony for $90 million ten years later.