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"In His Life: The John Lennon Story," airing Sunday, Dec. 3, from 9 to 11 p.m. on NBC.

The Early Life of Lennon

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NBC had to look all over creation to find somebody to play John Lennon. Writer/executive producer Michael O'Hara spent two months auditioning more than 300 candidates in the United Kingdom, Ireland, North America and Australia. Finally, he found Phillip McQuillan, a 23-year-old actor and musician from Dublin, Ireland, and picked him to star in the title role of "In His Life: The John Lennon Story," airing Sunday, Dec. 3, from 9 to 11 p.m. on NBC. The made-for-TV movie focuses on Lennon's life from age 17 to 24. They were heady years for the founder of the Beatles. Filmed on location in Liverpool at many of the locations that figured prominently in his life, the story picks up when John gets his first guitar and takes him forward in time to the States with Paul, George and Ringo to appear on "The Ed Sullivan Show." McQuillan himself can play a lick or two. He first started messing around with a guitar when he was 9. Since then, he's played in a variety of Dublin bands. And for the past year, he's been studying acting in Dublin. He writes his own songs, too. Blair Brown ("The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd") will play Mimi Smith, the stern aunt who raised John after his mother left him. Others in the cast include Welsh actor Daniel McGowan as Paul McCartney, Londoner Mark Rice-Oxley as George Harrison, Liverpool native Kristian Ealey as Ringo Starr, and Londoner Jamie Glover as Brian Epstein.

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