Julie Taymor sues Spider-Man producers

Judd Hollander

Julie Taymor, former director for the Broadway musical Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, has filed a lawsuit against the producers of the show claiming unpaid royalties.

The lawsuit was filed by Taymor’s attorney Charles Spada on November 8 in US District Court in Manhattan. In a statement, Spada noted that “the producers’ actions have left her no choice but to resort to legal recourse to protect her rights.”

Taymor was the original director on Spider-Man, as well as its co-bookwriter, until she was dismissed from the show last March as it suffered through various technical, production and financial delays, as well as numerous injuries among the cast.

Among the complaints listed in the lawsuit are allegations that Taymor is owed more than $70,000 in book royalties to date, that her contract states no changes can be made to show without her consent, and that she has been paid no co-bookwriter royalties since April 17, which was the last time Spider-Man was performed before new revisions were added to the work.

In response to Taymor’s lawsuit, Spider-Man lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J Harris released a statement saying: “Since Ms Taymor’s departure in March, we have repeatedly tried to resolve these issues. 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. We look forward to a resolution in which everyone is properly compensated for their contribution to Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark.”

The key issue for both sides seems to be how much of Taymor’s creative input remains in the show, a point which is currently being examined in two separate legal actions. For in addition to the recent lawsuit, Taymor had previously filed a complaint against the Spider-Man producers over royalties owed her as a director, a case which is currently being examined in an arbitration hearing. Testimony began on the arbitration matter last month, with no official word as to the status of that dispute or when a decision might be reached.

The Tony Awards administration committee recently ruled that Taymor is eligible for a Tony nomination as Best Director of a Musical for her work on Spider-Man, while her replacement, Philip McKinley, is not. McKinley, who came on board as a consultant when Taymor left the show, is now credited as the Spider-Man director on the musical’s official website, with Taymor listed as having done “original direction.” The Tony committee also announced Taymor will be eligible for a nomination as co-bookwriter, along with writers Glen Berger and Roberto Aguirre-Sucasa.

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