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John Drew

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

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FWIW, Glenn Beck -- who apparently sees a lot of Broadway shows -- has been raving about how mind-blowingly brilliant this show is.

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The cover of this weeks The New Yorker.

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The Washington Post ran a negative review this morning. ("Taymor has found a way to send her superhero soaring above the audience. And yet, the creature that most often spreads its wings in the Foxwoods is a turkey.")

I'm currently going through the New York Times review, which calls the show "not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway" but "among the worst," and "so grievously broken in every respect that it is beyond repair."

But I hear Glenn Beck loves it and has seen it four times. (I'm not a Beck-hater, but I know others on this board are.)

And yet ... the public fascination with this musical has me wondering if it might be a hit. The tone of those reviews -- one of the "worst" musicals of all time -- would kill any other high-profile show. But have the audiences agreed? From what I've heard, some who have seen the show really dig it.

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For SPIDER-MAN: THE MUSICAL to be a "hit" and recoup its losses, it would have to be a hit unlike any other. Somehow, I don't see this being the new PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Even if it doesn't tank right off the bat, will it have the legs that it really needs?

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For SPIDER-MAN: THE MUSICAL to be a "hit" and recoup its losses, it would have to be a hit unlike any other. Somehow, I don't see this being the new PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

What about Springtime for Hitler?

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The Washington Post ran a negative review this morning. ("Taymor has found a way to send her superhero soaring above the audience. And yet, the creature that most often spreads its wings in the Foxwoods is a turkey.")

That was the same line that caught my eye. Yowch!

I think some people are going to see it for the trainwreck value. But I doubt there are enough trainwreck fans to make it a hit.

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According to the New York Times, the March 15th opening is canceled - performances will be shut down for two to three weeks of script and music retooling - and the opening is being pushed back to June.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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Good heavens, how shocking. That's the last thing I would have expected.

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Time for another 60 Minutes "news piece" about the production.

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OK, well, that's something I actually didn't expect.

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And now Spiderman: Turn off the Lights. Satire part of young playwrights festival.

Edited by Darrel Manson

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The song performed on AI was weak, if not terrible, I thought. But I so enjoyed the two-hour AI finale that I didn't care.

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The song performed on AI was weak, if not terrible, I thought. But I so enjoyed the two-hour AI finale that I didn't care.

Artificial Intelligence? That's a show now? Did Spielberg muck up the ending again?

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Artificial Intelligence? That's a show now?

The weekly misadventures of a robot boy and his robot teddy bear sidekick as they roam the world seeking the Blue Fairy. It could work.

Did Spielberg muck up the ending again?

He didn't muck it up the first time. ;)

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Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Another opening, another review.

this singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It’s just a bore.

So is this ascent from jaw-dropping badness to mere mediocrity a step upward? Well, until last weekend, when I caught a performance of this show’s latest incarnation, I would have recommended “Spider-Man” only to carrion-feasting theater vultures. Now, if I knew a less-than-precocious child of 10 or so, and had several hundred dollars to throw away, I would consider taking him or her to the new and improved “Spider-Man.”

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Terry Teachout, WSJ.

And there you have it: $70 million and nearly nine years of effort, all squandered on a damp squib. To be sure, the people who came to last Saturday's sold-out press preview seemed to be enjoying themselves, though they saved their cheers for the flying, not the songs. No doubt "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" will continue to draw crowds, if only because it's been written about with such pendulum-like regularity. But it's neither good enough to get you excited nor bad enough to make you mad, and that will in all likelihood be its epitaph: Never in the history of Broadway has so much been spent to so little effect.

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Exclusive: Julie Taymor Files Suit Against “Spider Man” Producers

Exclusive: Showbiz411 has learned exclusively that director Julie Taymor has filed suit against the producers of the Broadway show she created, “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark.” I’m told that Taymor has named as the defendants Michael Cohl’s 8 Legged Productions. Taymor has been in arbitration negotiations for months trying to get some financial remuneration from the company. After creating the musical and working on it for nine years, she’s been paid just $150,000 for the production that carries a reported $70 million budget. Taymor was ousted by the producers last spring. Last week, the Tony Awards committee ruled that even though Taymor had been replaced as director of the show, only she qualified for a nomination. . . .

Roger Friedman, November 8

'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' Producers Fire Back at Julie Taymor

After Julie Taymor filed a lawsuit in New York claiming that Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the most expensive Broadway production ever, violated her rights by continuing to use her work without compensation, the producers have issued a response saying that they "have repeatedly tried to resolve these issues."

“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," said lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris in a joint statement issued late Tuesday.

The statement continues: "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.” . . .

Hollywood Reporter, November 8

“Spider Man” Lawsuit Could Mean No National Tour For Now

Julie Taymor’s lawsuit against the producers of “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” has some serious consequences not yet explored. It turns out her lawyers are asking for a permanent injunction against the production until Taymor is paid for her work. The amount named in the suit is $1 million. The permanent injunctions, if granted, could stop the producers, Michael Cohl and 8 Legged Productions, from starting any “Turn off the Dark” presentations in other cities. The show has cost so much–maybe up to $75 million–that the idea was to take on national tours to places like Las Vegas and who knows, maybe Branson, Missouri.

Anyway, the injunctions would finish all that for the time being. . . .

Roger Friedman, November 9

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Julie Taymor, American

She worked on the show for nine years (the Bush administration, give or take), starting in 2002, when Bono and the Edge of U2 enlisted Taymor to direct and cowrite the musical. Then Tony Adams, the lead producer who'd secured the stage rights from Marvel, suffered a stroke in the Edge's apartment minutes before signing the papers to finalize the deal. (He died two days later.) Adams's business partner took over, despite having no theater experience whatsoever, and he oversaw the show as it spiraled toward insolvency. Production had to shut down while new producers came on board and raised more cash. Meanwhile, during rehearsals and the extended preview period, Taymor and her team grappled with the technical challenges while members of the cast were getting injured during the aerial sequences. Bono and the Edge, who once championed Taymor's original script (written with Glen Berger, a relative newcomer to the big leagues), were away on tour, but when they came back, complained that the show wasn't working. The New York tabloids had a field day with the setbacks. Theater critics published reviews before the long-delayed official opening, and many ripped the story and the music to shreds. And through it all, Taymor quietly endured the second-guessing and ridicule until last March, which she describes, with uncharacteristic understatement, as "very dark times."

She lays out her story with the calm, even voice of someone who's told it many times before — to friends, to lawyers, but never, until now, to a journalist. She says her dismissal came as a "complete shock." Press reports at the time indicated that her producers gave her an ultimatum — accept fundamental changes to the show, or leave — which she strongly denies. "This thing that I refused to do the big changes and so they let me go? No. There wasn't [an ultimatum]," she says. "That was not something that was brought up to me. "

Over the next few months, Taymor went silent while the new team shut down production, overhauled the story by scrapping most of Taymor's second act, and orchestrated some damage control, mostly at Taymor's expense. Bono told The New York Times in June that he had never loved Taymor's version of the show. (I ask her about this, and though she declines to comment, the look on her face — annoyed and hurt — doesn't.) According to the Times, the producers are painting her as "inefficient" and "inflexible" in her ongoing arbitration suit against them over $500,000 in royalties. And the Edge has spoken of her as being "exhausted" and "overwrought" before her firing.

That pissed her off. Of course she was exhausted, she says — she'd been working on the thing for nine years. "There's no doubt by the end of February, when I felt all of this stuff happening, that I was exhausted by that, but not by the show and not by the inspiration that I was getting from the actors," she says. "What was exhausting was the fact that the producers were absent... Those people weren't there, so how does Bono know? I'm sorry." Of the descriptions of her as overwrought, she says, "I think that those were important to paint a picture of a director who you needed to release in order to make this big change. I had to be characterized that way in order for something to happen." And that she was fired for doing what she was hired to do — think big, take risks, break the rules — baffles her. "I say they asked me to get involved, they've seen my work" — what else did they expect?

The thing that seems to frustrate her most, and it comes across in the edge of her voice, is that she still believes in her vision of the show. "I love the script. I like the music. Our version was way too long and needed to be cut, but I still think it was a valid story ... and by the end, it was really working." She pauses. "This is the process. We unfortunately had people blogging that process. Some people say, 'Oh, well, it's the twenty-first century and you better get used to it.' Fine, but that means people will not be able to experiment and not be able to take risks, because you make mistakes along the way." . . .

Esquire, November 14

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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