Paul McCartney Plans TV Movie

Feb. 15, 2001 -- "I always thought you could not follow The Beatles," Paul McCartney announced today from London. "Wingspan is the story and soundtrack of how we set out to do it."

The two-hour film, put together over the past three years, will hit television in early May, accompanied by a two-CD set with 40 songs by McCartney's post-Beatles band, Wings.

Recounts Concert Tours, Jail Time

With Wingspan, McCartney seeks to tell all about the group he formed in the '70s with his wife, Linda. The movie candidly covers everything from Beatles lawsuits to Japanese drug busts, and, according to spokesman Geoff Baker, "the trauma of the breakup of The Beatles and how that led him to the brink of a breakdown.

"And for the first time, Paul has revealed his experiences in prison — when he was jailed in Tokyo in 1980 for possession of cannabis," Baker added.

Though Wings scored a number of hits in the '70s, including the No. 1 hits "Band on the Run" and "With a Little Luck," many critics were hard on the group, comparing it unfavorably to The Beatles.

The idea he and Linda had was to form a back-to-basics band. Devastated by the Beatles bust-up, McCartney felt he had to rebuild his pop career from scratch.

"Instead of arriving at stadium concerts in police-escorted limousines, the members of Wings drove themselves to small halls unannounced and uninvited and were paid for their impromptu shows in 50 pence pieces," Baker recalled.

The television film includes never-before-seen home movie footage of Paul and Linda, who died of breast cancer in 1998.

Though McCartney's best-known band broke up more than 30 years ago, Beatlemania seems to be as fervent as ever.

A recently released collection of No. 1 hits, 1, has sold more than 6 million copies in the United States and more than 20 million across the world.

Reuters contributed to this report.