×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Spidey’ vs. Taymor, round two

Producers file legal defense, counterclaims

Producers of Broadway tuner “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” fired back at director Julie Taymor with a legal defense and countersuit filed in response to the suit Taymor brought against them last year.

Filed in district court for the Southern District of New York, the “Spider-Man” producers’ counterclaims allege that Taymor is not in fact the co-writer of the original book as she’s currently credited, and characterize her legal push for royalty payments as an attempt to profit from the work of others. The suit also accuses her of breach of contract for her alleged refusal and inability to make changes to the script as requested by producers and other collaborators.

“The show is a success despite Taymor, not because of her,” according to the suit.

The new legal action reps the latest volley in the fallout from the $75 million musical’s tortured road to opening night, encompassing obstacles including funding failures, production delays and performer injuries that turned into international news. In March 2011, after more than three months of preview perfs, Taymor exited the production while director Philip William McKinley and book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa were brought in to re-tool the show.

Much of the producers’ Jan. 17 filing reps a line-by-line refutation of the claims Taymor’s camp made in a Nov. 8 filing alleging the director hadn’t been paid proper author royalties. The producers respond by asserting that for the “old book” of the musical — as opposed to the “new book” penned by Aguirre-Sacasa and Glen Berger, incorporated after a production hiatus in the spring — the real writing work was shouldered by co-writer Berger.

Producers also argue that Taymor’s copyright claims on story elements don’t hold, since the majority of those elements are drawn from pre-existing sources including the “Spider-Man” comicbooks and films. They additionally bat back at Taymor’s legal attempt to nix non-Broadway incarnations of “Spider-Man,” arguing she has no contractual say in the matter.

In response to the countersuit, Taymor’s lawyers reponded, “The defendants’ counterclaims against Ms. Taymor are baseless, although not surprising given their previous treatment of her. In her lawsuit, Ms. Taymor will continue to vigorously seek enforcement of her creative rights and will respond to the defendants’ counter-claims, as well as their outrageous mischaracterizations and attempts to besmirch her reputation.”

The Jan. 17 filing reads like a producers’-eye view of the turmoil that publicly engulfed “Spider-Man” during its preview period. The counterclaims paint Taymor as a stubborn director who stopped talking to collaborators and remained unresponsive in meetings every time the producers and collaborators asked her to shift the production away from her dark, arty vision of the “Spider-Man” story.

By the time the show opened in June, the “Spider-Man” team made a public show of seeming reconciliation, with Taymor appearing alongside other creatives at the tuner’s opening night. With the filing of Taymor’s author’s rights suit in November, however, that facade crumbled.

Meanwhile, producers also filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Taymor and the legit helmers’ union, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, in response to a separate suit filed last year over directing royalties. SDC exec director Laura Penn said she did not yet have any knowledge of the suit.

More Legit

  • CAROL CHANNING HERSCHFELD. Actress Carol Channing

    Remembering Carol Channing: A Master of Channeling the Power of Personality

    There was only one Carol Channing, and her outsize personality was a source of delight to many fans — and imitators. Gerard Alessandrini’s stage spoof “Forbidden Broadway” had many incarnations over the years, including the 1994 edition when an audience member was selected every evening to come onstage and impersonate Carol Channing with the cast. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Celebrities Remembering Carol Channing

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters are among the slew of celebrities taking to Twitter to pay tribute to late singer, comedienne and actress Carol Channing. Known for her starring roles in Broadway’s “Hello Dolly!” and “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” the legend of the stage and screen died Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, [...]

  • What the Constitution Means to Me

    Listen: How Things Got Scary in 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    For a decade, writer-performer Heidi Schreck had wanted to write a play inspired by her experiences as a teen debater. But over the years the show started to develop into something both urgently political and deeply personal — and things got scary. In the Broadway-bound “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Schreck reimagines her speech-and-debate [...]

  • Carol Channing Dead

    Carol Channing, Star of Broadway's 'Hello, Dolly!' and 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' Dies at 97

    Larger-than-life musical stage personality Carol Channing, who immortalized the characters of Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!,” has died. She was 97. Channing died Tuesday of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Her publicist B. Harlan Boll confirmed the news. He wrote, “It is with [...]

  • 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    'What the Constitution Means to Me' Transfers to Broadway

    “What the Constitution Means to Me,” a buzzy Off-Broadway production that counts Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem among its fans, is making the move uptown. The play will come to Broadway this spring for a 12-week limited run at the Helen Hayes Theater. “What the Constitution Means to Me” is one part civics lesson, one [...]

  • Choir Boy review

    Broadway Review: 'Choir Boy'

    Honestly, I was afraid that “Choir Boy” — the sweetly exuberant account of a gifted prep school boy’s coming of age, written by “Moonlight” Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney — would be swallowed up in a Broadway house, after winning us over in an Off Broadway staging in 2013.  But aside from the odd set [...]

  • Jason Robert Brown

    Listen: How Ariana Grande Got Jason Robert Brown to Madison Square Garden

    Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown never expected to find himself performing onstage at Madison Square Garden. But he did — thanks to his pal Ariana Grande. Brown met Grande before she was a superstar, when she was in the 2008 Broadway cast of his teen musical “13.” The two have kept in touch ever since [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content