CBGB Biopic In The Works

Film will focus on New York club's irreverent late owner Hilly Kristal and the bands that got their start there.

If you ever made it down to the legendary New York punk club CBGB, chances are you had a run-in with its legendarily irreverent, bearded owner, Hilly Kristal. Often perched at the entrance to the now-defunct ground zero of the city’s punk movement, the unflappable, bespectacled Kristal was like a character out of a movie.

And now he will be.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new movie tentatively titled “CBGB” will focus on the late club owner and the explosive years of 1974 to 1976, when CBs helped birth the careers of everyone from the Ramones to the Talking Heads, Patti Smith and Television.

The movie will tell the story of the New York punk scene through the eyes of Kristal — who died in 2007 after a bout with lung cancer — and will be co-produced by the club owner’s daughter, Lisa Kristal Burgman. The script is being written by the husband-and-wife team of Randall Miller and Jody Savin (“Bottle Shock”), with Savin slated to direct.

Kristal was a trained violinist who opened CBGB with the intention of booking country, bluegrass and blues bands (hence the name of the venue). But the dingy club on New York’s rundown Bowery neighborhood soon became a hot spot for the then-emerging punk scene, helping it gain a foothold in America and serving as the launching pad for a variety of bands, including the Misfits, the Dead Boys, the Dictators, the Voidoids, the Cramps, Blondie and the Fleshtones. After years of declining influence, the club closed down in 2006 after a rent dispute with the Bowery Residents’ Committee.

Given the “surrogate parent”-type relationship Kristal had with many of the acts that played at the venue, producers are confident that they will be able to get the music rights from the various bands who appear in the movie. The independent film is slated to start shooting later this year.

Are you interested in seeing a CBGB biopic? Tell us in the comments.

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