Showbiz 411‘s Roger Friedman reported yesterday that Frank Marshall‘s BeeGee’s doc, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? (HBO, 12.12), “omits” the big-screen debacle that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the 1978 musical fantasy that was produced by Robert Stigwood, directed by Michael Schultz and starred the Brothers Gibb.
Ignoring this tragedy in the BeeGees career is like omitting the Bay of Pigs episode in a doc about JFK’s presidency.
On the day it opened (7.21.78), the L.A. Herald Examiner ran a top-of-the-page headline that read “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bomb.” Universal marketing executives hit the roof and, if I remember correctly, cancelled advertising with the paper for revenge.
I was at the all-media screening at the old Rivoli theatre (B’way at 49th). As costar Peter Frampton began to sing “The Long and Winding Road,” a guy in the first or second row yelled “Ecchh!…ecchh!” The film all but ruined Stigwood’s reputation and that of the Bee Gees, who starred along with Peter Frampton, Steve Martin, George Burns, et. al.
It’s dishonest and unprofessional to wave this episode away. Very few films have bombed as badly. You can’t “omit” this.