Manchester Attack

Exclusive: CBGB Film to Chronicle Birthplace of Punk Rock

Ebet Roberts/Redferns
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of CBGBs and Hilly KRYSTAL and CBGB's; Hilly Krystal standing outside (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

The birth of punk rock in New York City will be chronicled in a film about the club CBGB and its owner, the late Hilly Kristal, according to the film's producers, one of whom is Kristal's daughter.

Brad Rosenberger, Randall Miller, Jody Savin and Kristal's daughter Lisa Kristal Burgman will produce the film, tentatively titled "CBGB," that will cover the years 1974 to '76 when the Bowery club became a haven for the Ramones, Talking Heads, Television and Patti Smith. Miller and Savin are writing the script; Savin will direct.

Kristal, who died in 2007, was a trained violinist who opened CBGB with the intention of booking country, bluegrass and blues bands. Instead he found a new breed of rock acts that he wound up nurturing.

"It was an old-fashioned salon in an awful part of New York where people could fail while they worked to find their voice," Savin told "He provided a voice to the disenfranchised. It's a heroic and flawed story."

Through Burgman's extensive connections, the producing team has been interviewing artists about Kristal and the club. The "surrogate parent" relationship he had with many of the artists, Rosenberger says, has the producers confident they will be able to secure music rights from various bands for the film. Scheduling is being worked out, but a late fall start is being eyed.

Rosenberger, Miller and Savin are producing a biopic of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson that they intend to begin shooting in August or September. They are currently casting the Wilson film, titled "The Drummer," and would like to segue immediately into "CBGB" once they finish principal photography. Both films are being financed by independent backers and individuals.

Rosenberger, a former executive at music publisher Warner/Chappell, recently launched a reissue label, Omnivore Recordings. Miller and Savin, a husband and wife team, have collaborated on other films, most recently "Bottle Shock."