Julie Taymor claims ‘Spider-Man’ producers engaged in fraud
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The most exciting thing about Broadway’s ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ has been the legal battle taking place off stage. On Friday, lawyers for Julie Taymor, the ousted director of the mega-musical, fired the latest salvo in the ongoing fight, filing papers in a federal court in response to a countersuit from the show’s producers.
Taymor’s lawyers claim in the document that producers ‘fraudulently induced’ her to continue working on the musical even though they were ‘secretly conspiring to oust Taymor and use and change her work without pay.’
The papers also state that Taymor was fired in an attempt to blame the musical’s problems on her, as well as for financial reasons.
The 46-page document, obtained by The Times, was filed Friday in a New York court. [Updated: Friday, 6:15 p.m.] A lawyer representing ‘Spider-Man’ producers said in a statement that it is ‘very disheartening for the former director of the show to take no responsibility for the consequences of her actions while, at the same time, trying to claim credit for the show’s success.’
In Friday’s filing, Taymor’s lawyers addressed the existence of ‘Plan X,’ which they say was a plan to make changes to the musical without Taymor’s knowledge during the show’s preview period.
They claim that co-writer Glen Berger and set designer George Tsypin developed the plan in secret and reached out to producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, as well as Bono and the Edge, who wrote the score for the musical. (Tsypin had been a longtime collaborator and friend of Taymor.)
The recent filing states that Taymor was fired from the musical last March during a lunch meeting at the Lamb’s Club in New York. Her lawyers claim that the producers ‘never offered Taymor a chance to implement Plan X and never offered her a shutdown to make other changes’ to the show. Friday’s filing is the latest round in a complicated legal battle. In November, Taymor sued producers in federal court, claiming that she is entitled to profits from the musical, as it was largely her creation.
In January, producers filed a countersuit in federal court against the director, accusing her of failing to fulfill her contractual obligations. Their suit claims that the current version of the show is significantly different from Taymor’s version.
Last month, producers of ‘Spider-Man’ reached a settlement in their arbitration with the union that represents Taymor -- the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. As part of the agreement, they agreed to pay Taymor full royalties for her services as director of the New York production.
-- David Ng