Director takes legal action vs. producers

Julie Taymor, the helmer of megabudget Broadway tuner “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” has filed a lawsuit against the producers of the show.

Suit alleges that Taymor hasn’t been properly compensated for her contributions as one of the original co-creators of the high-profile musical, which has songs by Bono and the Edge of U2. “As the lawsuit filed today makes clear, the defendants have violated Ms. Taymor’s creative rights as an author of ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,’ ” Taymor’s attorney Charles Spada said in a statement. “Moreover, the producers have failed to compensate Ms. Taymor for their continued use of her work to date.”

“Since Ms. Taymor’s departure in March, we have repeatedly tried to resolve these issues,” responded “Spider-Man” lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris in a statement. “The production has indeed compensated Ms. Taymor for her contribution as a co-book writer. Fortunately the court system will provide, once and for all, an opportunity to resolve this dispute.”

The lawsuit isn’t the first time Taymor and the “Spider-Man” producers have squabbled over payment. Earlier this year, the Stage Director and Choreographers’ Society (SDC) filed an arbitration claim against the producers over unpaid directing royalties to Taymor.

The new legal action is the latest fallout from the $75 million musical’s rocky road to opening night, a journey that encompassed everything from funding failures to multiple production delays to performer injuries that turned into international news. In March, after more than three months of preview perfs, Taymor was driven by her collaborators to step away from the musical spectacle while director Philip William McKinley and book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa were brought in to re-tool the show.

After a three-week shutdown in performances, the new version, still incorporating many of Taymor’s staging and story elements, opened June 14.

The helmer and the show’s producers have had a patchy relationship since the highly public break-up in March. She did, however, attend the show’s opening this summer, when she was among the creators to take a bow.

Despite the additional staging contributions of McKinley, it was Taymor who was recently deemed eligible to be considered for a Tony nomination in the musical director category. Taymor is credited with the “original direction” of the show. She’s also listed as co-book writer and mask designer.

Throughout all the turmoil, “Spider-Man” has posted strong B.O. tallies, usually logging sales of more than $1 million per week.

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