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UPDATE: No Deal Yet for SPIDER-MAN & Julie Taymor

It's been just over two weeks now since SPIDER-MAN: Turn Off The Dark announced that they rescheduled their opening night for Tuesday, June 14, 2011 and it was revealed that they began official negotiations with Julie Taymor for her to depart that production.

An official announcement at the time started that "Julie Taymor is not leaving the creative team. Her vision has been at the heart of this production since its inception and will continue to be so. Julie's previous commitments mean that past March 15th, she cannot work the 24/7 necessary to make the changes in the production in order to be ready for our opening." 

That statement was quickly followed up with multiple reports here on BroadwayWorld.com and elsewhere that negotiations were underway for Taymor to 'depart' the production and that she had in effect already left, not having been seen at the theatre since word of creative team changes eeked out in early March. Sources told us as well that amongst other problems, Taymor's team was threatening to pull their script from the still running production for which it's expected she will still retain certain credits and her contractually promised royalties. 

We're now told by two production sources that these negotiations are still continuing, and that her exit deal has not yet been finalized. Issues surrounding royalties, copywrites, billing and a non-disclosure are all said to not yet have not yet been settled upon. Both sides are still hoping to reach an amicable departure and to avoid litigation, but that possibility is not off the table as they've now dragged on longer than both sides thought they would. 

That's not the only potential trouble with the creative team. It was reported on Monday, that producers are now in talks to replace the show's choreographer, Daniel Ezralow with Chase Brock. Ezralow, who helped to create many of the show's mid-air battles, is a longtime collaborator of Julie Taymor's, having worked with her on Across the Universe, and the Green Bird, along with also staging shows for David Bowie, Sting and U2. We're told that potential reachouts were made for a choreographer to work on new material that's being added to the show.

Last night, Ezralow released a statement that: "As far as I know I am the choreographer and aerial choreographer of Spider-Man. The producers have not addressed any change in my status officially, and they are happily using my choreography on the ground and in the air every night at the Foxwoods Theatre."

We checked in with a legal expert, not affiliated with the production, for their take on reports that a Dramatists Guild Contract had not be signed and if Taymor could indeed pull her co-written script from the production.

They told us that:

"Firstly, it's not only a Dramatists Guild contract that includes author approval for changes in the author's script--it's The Common way this is handled in all agreements. As to whether her words can be altered, this source says yes, because there's no signed contract.

Sadly, it's not unusual for entertainment projects of all sorts to go forward without signed contracts in advance. If the Dramatists Guild is involved, there's usually more pressure and if there are offering documents the investors signed, they would normally describe the status of the rights agreements. So, it boils down to good faith--even without a contract, the show is running, we're paying you and billing you, etc., as if it were signed, while we try to get to the finish line.

She also probably has approval of the director, as all authors do. When you have an author/director in one person, that clause is particularly dangerous and the Producer goes into the situation knowing he's in trouble if the author doesn't want to walk away as director. I doubt any of this leads to the conclusion that they weren't happy with her at the time the contract should've been signed.

My guess is her position is that she didn't sign an agreement as author, and an oral agreement isn't enforceable in this instance it would have to be entirely performable within one year of the date the oral agreement was made and that isn't the case, so on what theory do they have the right to use her work if she wants it stopped? It's a pretty strong position and if they didn't recognize she had that position, they wouldn't be offering to settle for what I'm sure is a large sum of money.

If she had a Dramatists Guild contract, they would have the right to use what she wrote, but not change it or bring in someone to touch it."

As previously announced, Philip William McKinley and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa have joined the creative team to help implement new staging and book rewrites, respectively. The expanded creative team also includes musical consultant Paul Bogaev and sound designer Peter Hylenski.

SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark is now in previews at Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre 213 West 42nd Street.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos


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