New York – Today Freedom to Marry announced a partnership with The Fifth Beatle, a graphic novel examining the life of legendary Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Epstein was a brilliant visionary who discovered the Beatles and led them on the path to international stardom even as he struggled with his own sense of belonging: he was gay when it was a felony; he was Jewish during a time of anti-Semitism; and he was from Liverpool, then considered a dingy port town.
“Freedom to Marry has long urged that the most effective way to continue winning over hearts and minds is talking about who gay people are, why marriage matters, and the harms inflicted by the denial of the freedom to marry,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “Vivek J. Tiwary’s The Fifth Beatle tells the compelling story of a tremendously successful entertainment executive who lived at a time that gay people were excluded from the public dialogue — not that long ago — and the costs of that exclusion. Brian Epstein’s story portrays the unnecessary, unfair, and unacceptable pain and price of telling some of our friends that they cannot dream of a life of love and commitment equally respected under the law. In a year when we celebrate our winning the freedom to marry in Epstein’s home country of Britain, and a year of real momentum here in the U.S., we continue to imagine, as John Lennon urged, a better world — and are working to bring it home.”
The Fifth Beatle takes the form of a graphic novel which chronicles Epstein’s discovery of the Beatles, his work to sharpen them into stars and secure a record deal when no one else would sign them, and his overwhelming success in the midst of his personal obstacles—particularly his struggle with being gay. Epstein suffered an untimely death at age 32 and has become a largely forgotten figure in Beatles history.
It is a project of Broadway veteran Vivek J. Tiwary, who previously worked as lead producer for the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun and as co-producer for the Broadway productions of The Addams Family and Green Day’s rock opera American Idiot. In total, Tiwary’s Broadway productions have garnered a total of 25 Tony Awards stemming from 44 Tony nominations. The Fifth Beatle is his first book and will be his first film.
“Growing up as the son of first-generation immigrants and becoming one of few producers of color in the entertainment business, I can relate to the outsider status that Epstein felt so many decades ago in Liverpool,” said Vivek J. Tiwary, Broadway theatre producer and CEO of Tiwary Entertainment Group. “Epstein’s story and struggle served as an inspiration to me for years, and I’m hoping that The Fifth Beatle will inspire in turn—and that our partnership with Freedom to Marry will point our readers and viewers in a direction where they can make an immediate and important difference, by supporting a fight worth winning. A fight we are going to win.”
The book is scheduled for release on November 19 by Dark House Comics. It includes an afterword by pioneering cartoonist Howard Cruse (Stuck Rubber Baby, Wendel) about his own experiences with the struggle for marriage and the connection between the Brian Epstein story and Freedom to Marry. In addition, The Fifth Beatle is being adapted into a feature film and has secured unprecedented rights to Beatles’ songs. Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen will produce the film along with Tiwary. Cohen won the 2000 Academy Award for Best Picture for American Beauty and has been nominated twice more for Milk (2008) and Silver Linings Playbook (2012). The Fifth Beatle will begin production in 2014.
“I’m thrilled that Freedom to Marry will be partnering with The Fifth Beatle graphic novel,” said Cohen. “I hope that by embracing the music of the Beatles, the message of love that they are famous for, and the talent of the gay man who made it all possible, viewers around the world will be inspired to get involved with Freedom to Marry so that the much-needed work of full marriage equality can continue.” Cohen is a longtime LGBT activist and supporter of Freedom to Marry, as well as the current President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group behind the recently victorious Supreme Court case which declared Prop 8 unconstitutional and allowed marriages for same-sex couples in California to resume.
Tiwary is a longtime straight ally whose support of Freedom to Marry goes back nearly a decade, when he and his then-fiancée requested that their wedding guests make donations to Freedom to Marry in lieu of wedding gifts. Freedom to Marry will serve as a sponsor of the book’s launch party in New York City on November 19.
Tiwary and Cohen will participate in a panel discussion highlighting the book and the partnership along with The Fifth Beatle illustrator Andrew C. Robinson; bestselling author Dave Marsh; and top record producer David Kahne at New York Comic Con on Friday, October 11.
Media Relations Manager, Freedom to Marry
Publicist, 42 West
Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.