'THE GREAT COMET OF 1812' Producers Offer to Settle Dispute with Nonprofit Ars Nova
1:15 pm/ET: Regarding last night's offer from the producers of 'THE GREAT COMET OF 1812' to settle the impending litigation, Ars Nova managing director Renee Blinkwolt tells Deadline. "We met this morning and are in ongoing conversations."
With the official opening night of NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 just days away, the New York Times reports that producers of the new Broadway musical offered to settle litigation with Ars Nova, the nonprofit theater that originally commissioned the show.
In a joint statement, the three lead producers of the Josh Groban-led show, Howard and Janet Kagan and Paula Marie Black, said that they will agree to settle a dispute involving the language that would be used to describe Ars Nova's role in the production in the show's Playbill. If the offer is accepted, the program will now include the words "the Ars Nova Production of." In return, the nonprofit would agree to drop two legal claims which were filed late last week.
The full statement from the producers reads:
"The producers of The Great Comet regret that a dispute regarding the billing of Ars Nova has occurred.
In an effort to reflect The Great Comet's unique, five-year path to Broadway, we sought to create title page billing that would give due credit to all of the amazing artists and partners who joined along the way and have helped to make the show what it is today. While we believe Ars Nova is making a good faith argument based on the 2011-2012 contracts among Ars, Dave Malloy and Maxolev, we believe they have not taken into account all the contracts and events that followed and how they impacted these initial contracts. Since the first performance on Broadway, we have provided Ars Nova with a standalone credit line directly above the title - not as part of the block of commercial producers - as well as a footnote reading: Originally Commissioned, Developed, and World Premiere Produced by Ars Nova, Jason Eagan, Founding Artistic Director.
We sincerely want to end this disagreement so that the incredible artistry at the core of this production can, once again, be our primary focus. To that end, the producers have reached out to Ars Nova to propose to change the above-the-title billing to the words that Ars Nova has asked for ('the Ars Nova Production of'), provided that Ars Nova agrees to end the dispute. We hope that this will bring this matter to a conclusion."
The disagreement arose when the nonprofit claimed the aforementioned requested language was agreed upon in a contract signed by Mr. Kagan, who discovered the show while he was a board member of Ars Nova. Yet as of last week, the wording did not appear in the program for the musical, now in previews.
In an interview with the Times Monday night, Renee Blinkwolt, the managing director of Ars Nova, said that the theater had called a board meeting for Tuesday morning to discuss whether it will accept the offer. She said the settlement offer had come in a formal legal document that required legal review. The board has to consider and vote on any response, but I remain hopeful that we can resolve this," Ms. Blinkwolt said. "This has always only been about credit for Ars Nova, so if we are able to get our contractual billing, I would say that's positive - we would love to be able to accept that."
Read BWW's original report on the situation here