Spider-Man Producers File Countersuit Against Julie Taymor
By Andrew Gans
The producers of Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark filed an answer and countersuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Jan. 17 against Julie Taymor and her company, LOH, Inc.
The producers’ answer responds to the complaint that Taymor and LOH filed on Nov. 8, 2011. Taymor's lawsuit claims that the producers not only violated the Tony-winning Lion King's creative rights but also have yet to compensate her for her work on the musical, which is currently playing to capacity crowds at the Foxwoods Theatre.
The producers’ counterclaims assert that although Taymor was contracted to co-write and collaborate on the musical, she refused "to fulfill her contractual obligations, declaring that she could not and would not do the jobs that she was contracted to do."
The counterclaims assert that because of “the delays and increased expense due to Taymor’s actions,” the producers had to hire other individuals “in order for the show to survive, and for it to continue to provide jobs to the cast and crew and allow investors to recoup their investment.”
Taymor’s recent lawsuit, say the counterclaims, is simply “an attempt to put Taymor in the same position she would have been had she fulfilled her obligations under her agreement and actually written a book for the Spider-Man Musical that could be opened on Broadway.”
The producers also claim Taymor’s copyright claims are baseless, explaining “any similarities [between the final version and Taymor's original treatment]. . . exist by virtue of the fact that they are both based on the same pre-existing works in which Taymor cannot claim copyrights, including, but not limited to, the Spider-Man comic books and the 'Spider-Man' and 'Spider-Man' 2 films, which originated all of the main characters in the works at issue in this case, their settings, the Spider-Man origin story premise, and the plot elements that appear in the works.”
The producers also filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Inc., LOH, Inc. and Julie Taymor in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit is in response to Taymor’s similar request to be paid “full royalties as director and collaborator despite the fact that Taymor caused numerous delays, drove up costs, and failed to direct a musical about Spider-Man that could open on Broadway."
On Nov. 3, 2011, the Tony Awards Administration Committee ruled that only Taymor, and not Philip Wm. McKinley, who succeeded her, will be considered eligible for a Tony nomination in the category of Best Direction of a Musical. Taymor will also be eligible for a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical along with Glen Berger and Roberto Aguirre-Sucasa.
The creative credits for the June 2011 reboot of Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark read this way: music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, book by Julie Taymor, Glen Berger & Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, choreography and aerial choreography by Daniel Ezralow, additional choreography by Chase Brock, creative consultant Philip Wm. McKinley, original direction by Julie Taymor.
Lead producers of the musical are Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris. Also producing are Land Line Productions, Hello Entertainment/David Garfinkle/Tony Adams, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Norton Herrick and Herrick Entertainment, Billy Rovzar & Fernando Rovzar, Stephen Bronfman, Jeffrey B. Hecktman, Omneity Entertainment/Richard G. Weinberg, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, S2BN Entertainment, Jam Theatricals, The Mayerson/Gould/Hauser/Tysoe Group, Patricia Lambrecht, and Paul McGuinness, by arrangement with Marvel Entertainment.
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