A California producer said yesterday that he was close to firming up an agreement by which the Beatles would be reunited in Geneva, Switzerland, in a benefit concert for boat people.
Dirk Summers, an independent Los Angeles concert producer who reposedly was handling negotiations, told Garden City, N.Y., radio station WLIR that three of the four Beatles -- Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- had agreed to perform together in Geneva. Summers said a four-hour concert was planned and would include rock star Elton John as master of ceremonies, with Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in an interpretation of Beatles tunes.
A U.N. spokesman confirmed yesterday that the four members of the group, who have not all played together in 10 years, are being urged to play a benefit for the refugees of Southeast Asia and elsewhere. U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim would sponsor the event.
A spokeswoman for Eastman and Eastman, the law firm that represents McCartney, yesterday said, "The answer is no.
"As far as we know it, [the concert] is not happening," she said.
Lee Eastman, a senior partner of the firm, is McCartney's father-in-law. John Eastman, the former Beatle's brother-in-law, is a member of the firm and McCartney's agent.
"No comment," was the response from a spokesman for Lennon.
Reliable sources in London said there would not be a Beatles reunion because it would take months to untangle contractual and artistic problems between the group members.
But Summers gave the concert a "60-40" chance of coming off.
"In July George Harrison did commit (himself) to do the concert and contacted Paul, I'm told, and Ringo, and they said they would do it if he did," Summers said.
"So we had, through George, a commitment for three," Summers said. "Our next problem was to obtain John Lennon's agreement."
To do that, Summers said he sent a courier to Tokyo with messages for Lennon from himself and Waldheim, but Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, had left two days before the messenger arrived.
"This is now being corrected and we are awaiting John's response," Summers said. "I believe that if Lennon agrees, the rest would fall in line quickly."
Summers estimated that $250 million to $300 million could be raised for the boat people through proceeds from an album, a film, video cassettes and a worldwide closed-circuit broadcast of the concert, as well as television network rights.
Tickets for the closed-circuit shows would cost $100, he said.