Brian Wilson: Beach Boy, Savant, Film Icon?
The New York Times Arts' section reported today that independent film company River Road Entertainment is in the process of making a biopic about the life of troubled rock-maestro Brian Wilson (a.k.a. most relevant Beach Boy). River Road is currently garnering accolades for its involvement in the production of cinematic maestro Terrence Malick's latest film, The Tree of Life.
For decades, fans of Wilson have marveled at his genius, which gave the world such lushly arranged odes to teenage love as "Wouldn't it Be Nice," "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations." But as much as people have analyzed his considerable abilities in the studio, they've also picked at the carcass of his life, which, needless to say, has been turbulent and traumatic--though perhaps open to historical interpretation.
In 1991 Publisher Harper Collins released Wilson's autobiography Wouldn't it be Nice, which also featured author Todd Gold, some say under the direction of Wilson's megalomaniac psychologist, Dr. Eugene Landy. The story related tales of emotional torture resulting from mental illness, bad acid trips, an obsession with Phil Spector, and manipulative record executives--not to mention his brother Dennis's brush with the Manson Family. But most central to Wilson's woeful life story was his sociopathic and overbearing stage father, Murray Wilson.
The book tells of many horrific encounters with the man described frequently as an ogre, including one in which Murray threw a newspaper on the kitchen floor and demanded young Brian drop trou and shit on command. Sounds like cinematic gold for an uber-jaded film-going public who's seen just about everything. Perhaps the Hollywood Emperors have a few cinemtic shocks left up their sleeves.
The problem is, questions have been raised as to how much Wilson actually contributed to the writing of his autobiography. In the mid '90s fellow Beach Boy Mike Love as well as other members of Wilson's family initiated a lawsuit against Wilson, and author Gold, claiming they had been defamed by the book. The case was settled out of court in 1994.
So were they all miffed at Wilson's rigorous honesty? Did Wilson settle just to shut them up? Who knows. But in court Wilson testified he hadn't even read the final manuscript.
Whether or not River Road entertainment will rely on Wilson's autobiography or go directly to the horse's mouth for revisions, we don't know. But should Wilson be a consultant on the project, we'd want to ask the writers if they've listened to the man speak about anything coherently in the past 20 years.
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