Fired “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” director Julie Taymor took aim today at the musical’s producers and her former creative partners on the show, accusing them in a lawsuit of making her a scapegoat to appease investors anxious about cost-overruns and poor critical response.
U2 singer Bono, who co-wrote the songs for the show, forced the cancellation of a key meeting by showing up “with Christy Turlington and a couple other supermodels, and he had already had a few beers, rendering him useless,” according to an e-mail from Glen Berger, co-author of the book, that Taymor cited in court papers.
The suit was filed today, six weeks after the producers claimed in their own lawsuit that they fired Taymor to save the $75 million show.
In papers filed in federal court in Manhattan, Taymor said that the producers conspired with Berger and the show’s song writers -- Bono and The Edge.
Bono and the Edge, she said, were “frequently distracted” in New York, after missing rehearsals and the first month of previews because of a U2 world tour.
Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the production and lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, declined to comment. Chris Kanarick, a spokesman for Taymor, said she wasn’t available for comment.
Taymor, 59, was removed from the musical, the most expensive Broadway production, in March, 2011, after critics lambasted it during an extended preview period. She sued producers on Nov. 8, saying they violated her intellectual property rights by making changes without her permission and didn’t pay royalties due her as a co-book writer.
In their January countersuit, the producers accused her of refusing to make changes and storming out of meetings when alterations were even hinted at.
Taymor’s suit claims she was fired to calm existing investors and encourage additional investments to fund the three-week suspension of preview performances in April and May of 2011. She said the firing was also to free producers from paying her royalties.
Taymor made clear to producers that she was willing to make changes to the production, she said in court papers. She added that “the scope of possible changes was limited by the musical’s performance schedule once previews had begun, which called for eight performances most weeks, and the sheer technical complexity of the show.”
She said the producers were initially unwilling to suspend previews because of the lost revenue.
Taymor claims that Berger and set designer George Tsypin privately discussed a rewrite of the book. She said the rewrite “appears to have been conceived as a way to avoid the technical challenges Tsypin and his team were having staging the finale.”
“That ending entailed a ‘coup de theatre’ in which a giant web was supposed to descend from the ceiling of the theatre in a thrilling flight/fly sequence,” she said in the court papers.
In an e-mail to Berger cited in court papers, Bono called it “a twin track approach,” of working on changes with Taymor and more radical ones behind her back. Taymor said she learned from press reports about the involvement of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who was brought in to revise the book.
The case is Julie Taymor v. 8 Legged Productions LLC, 1:11-cv-08002-RJH, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).