Larson's unhappy with RENT

Phyllis Rogers Stone
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#26
Posted: 7/12/11 at 1:27pm
I'm sure Anthony Rapp is waiting in the wings for that role.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#27
Posted: 7/12/11 at 1:28pm
"As to Thomson. She was a dramaturg, who herself admitted her primary input was historical research."

Horse manure, she admitted no such thing. She co-wrote dialogue and lyrics with Larson and had the notes to prove it. The lawyers of the family offered to buy her work outright for $100,000; she held firm for 16% of the author royalties, although she had proof that about 33% of the words originated with her. Don't pretend you know what you're talking about when you're merely parroting inaccurate information you read elsewhere.

When Thomson was hired (for $2,000), Rent was a little thing that had been making the rounds for years and had finally been picked up by one of Off Broadway's smallest companies. No one had an inkling then that it would become the cash cow it became. Many of Larson's friends and co-workers testified that he said that Thomson was helping him to transform the piece into something entirely different than it had been. If he had lived, there's no doubt that he would have given her a percentage, just as Tony Kushner gave a percentage of Angels in America to Oskar Eustis, his dramaturg.

As for health insurance - yes, I do know some struggling artists whose upper-middle class parents (like Larson's) provide them with health insurance. What ghostlight neglects to mention above is that Larson visited overworked emergency room doctors, and had no primary physician of his own. No one can say for sure, but if he HAD had a doctor for regular thorough checkups, it may have prolonged his life.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#28
Posted: 7/12/11 at 1:38pm
I don't believe this either, Namo. I find the fact that it's the same director is more than likely to cause problems with a xeroxed production than a nostalgic Larson family, who will most likely stop in for opening night and nothing more.

ghostlight, agreed, completely.

hyperbole, you're willfully ignoring the difference between the productions- Towson rented the officially licensed show from MTI, which they altered without permission. The off-Broadway production is working with the copyright holders, and nothing in this unsourced, possible libelous gossip suggests that the changes being made are done have been done so without permission. What exactly is being changed is immaterial to the comparison.
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ghostlight2
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#29
Posted: 7/12/11 at 1:46pm
"If he had lived, there's no doubt that he would have given her a percentage" [bolding mine]

Really? None at all? She was hired as a dramaturg, she was credited as a dramaturg, and she worked as a dramaturg, in an advisory capacity. If she went above and beyond, she should have renegotiated her contract, then and there. She waited until after RENT was a success, and after Larson died, and then it was simply too late. If all she claimed was true, perhaps she should be considered a cautionary tale to future collaborators. There is no indication that Larson wanted to share credit when he was alive - quite the opposite, in fact. The bottom line is, she lost the lawsuit.

"As for health insurance - yes, I do know some struggling artists whose upper-middle class parents (like Larson's) provide them with health insurance".

And because some do, somehow Larson's family should have?

"What ghostlight neglects to mention above is that Larson visited overworked emergency room doctors, and had no primary physician of his own."

No neglect there - it's fairly common knowledge, sans the "overworked" qualifier you've shoe-horned in. Regardless, it seems very unfair to me to blame the Larsons for "not providing their son with a doctor".

What I have neglected was to address this:

"Larson might still be alive today if they had paid for his health insurance instead of refusing because they thought he was wasting his time at this theatre thing. "

This implies that Jonathan asked for his parents to pay for insurance and they refused him. Did anything like that actually occur, or are you just casting aspersions using baseless suppositions?

Also, right now, all of this is pointless. So far, we only have the word of one BWW poster claiming that the Larsons are unhappy, and the pitchforks are out. I don't have any personal interest vested in this. You seem to.




Updated On: 7/12/11 at 01:46 PM
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#30
Posted: 7/12/11 at 2:11pm
Thomson NOT lose the suit; it was settled out of court. She was granted an undisclosed sum, with the proviso that she could not take any creative credit for the show.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#31
Posted: 7/12/11 at 2:12pm
Another thing you're neglecting to mention is that Thomson was diagnosed with breast cancer at about the same time the Larsons decided to use the Rent royalties to hire big lawyers to do her in. In better health, she may have decided to keep fighting; as it was, she agreed to the cash settlement in order to focus upon her treatment.

As to your rather Cheney-esque statement that families have no obligation to provide care for their offspring, yes, I think that if a family can afford it, they have no good reason to withhold health care from their less well-funded children. No, there are no laws compelling them to do so; only the basic understanding of caring and compassion.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#32
Posted: 7/12/11 at 2:16pm
Kick some ass, newintown.
"There is no problem so big that it cannot be run away from." ~ Charles M. Schulz
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#33
Posted: 7/12/11 at 2:26pm
"would you also say it was ok for a company to change the end of Sound of Music so that the Nazi's capture the von Trapps?"

What a GREAT idea.

Now living in DC. I really have to change my name on the board.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#34
Posted: 7/12/11 at 2:41pm
When you go to see a high school production of a musical, do you assume, because they use the Broadway logo (whick MTI licenses for $50) that it will be an exact reproduction of the Broadway version?

For that matter, MTI also has pre-made TV commercials for some shows - featuring unidentifed actors and dancers from some unnamed production.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#35
Posted: 7/12/11 at 2:48pm
"Another thing you're neglecting to mention is that Thomson was diagnosed with breast cancer at about the same time the Larsons decided to use the Rent royalties to hire big lawyers to do her in."

So now, in addition to your suggestion that the Larsons were remiss in not providing their adult son health insurance, they somehow are bad guys because they responded to the lawsuit that Ms Thomson brought to them, during which she was rather unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer?

"As to your rather Cheney-esque statement that families have no obligation to provide care for their offspring, yes, I think that if a family can afford it, they have no good reason to withhold health care from their less well-funded children."

I made no such statement.

You use dire phrases like "do her in" and "withhold healthcare" to paint these people as monsters. Your language is hyperbolic and your attempt to align me with Cheney is equally a stretch, and properly deserves a place as a corollary to Godwin's rule. The person who likens their online debator to a despised politician automatically loses.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#36
Posted: 7/12/11 at 3:03pm
"So now, in addition to your suggestion that the Larsons were remiss in not providing their adult son health insurance, they somehow are bad guys because they responded to the lawsuit that Ms Thomson brought to them, during which she was rather unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer?"

I suggest that you actually research the story before setting your fingers on the keyboard. The Larsons didn't simply "respond" to Thomson's suit - they sued her for saying that she helped write the show. And they had the cash to keep the suit going as long as possible. When they realized that they wouldn't win, they made Thomson the offer; she, to focus on her health, took it.

Why you continue to pretend you know anything about the story is a mystery.

Your comment about winning or losing is pointless; you don't possess the information necessary to discuss the case intelligently; but, rather than ask questions to enlighten yourself, you prefer to repeat misinformation; and not just any misinformation, but misinformation that champions the miscreants.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#37
Posted: 7/12/11 at 3:16pm
I don't know what the "story" is anymore.
I like your imperturbable perspicacity.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#38
Posted: 7/12/11 at 3:19pm
I'm not going to pretend to have researched the Thompson courtcase thoroughly (I've read wikipedia and some law website) but things like this happen all the time. She signed a contract for $2,000. If she wanted more, she should have signed for more. As for saying the Larsons sued Lynn, she was the person who started the courtcase, not Jonathan's family.

If she had actually helped to create RENT, she might've been able to remember some of the lyrics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent_(musical)#Lynn_Thomson_controversy)

Back on track, I can understand why they might not want it to change, but as songanddanceman said, RENT Remixed was probably a much worse production than what is going to be staged (I'm pretty excited for the new staging). Plus, all shows need to grow and change with new staging, choreography or whatever. It can't (and souldn't) be stopped.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#39
Posted: 7/12/11 at 3:24pm
"Why you continue to pretend you know anything about the story is a mystery.

Your comment about winning or losing is pointless; you don't possess the information necessary to discuss the case intelligently; but, rather than ask questions to enlighten yourself, you prefer to repeat misinformation; and not just any misinformation, but misinformation that champions the miscreants."


Actually, it's the expectation that discussing anything with you civilly that is pointless, and the real mystery is why I ever bother. You twist words, make accusations, and use pejorative schoolyard insults dressed up in big boy language.

I didn't just learn about all this yesterday. I've followed all this closely from way back when in the 90's. I am as well-read and otherwise knowlegable on the subject as you. That I don't happen to agree with you doesn't make me ill-informed or lacking in the ability to intelligently discuss this - but since you prefer insults and innuendo to honest discussion, I'll refrain from engaging you further. It's too nice a day outside.

"miscreants", indeed...
Updated On: 7/12/11 at 03:24 PM
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#40
Posted: 7/12/11 at 3:29pm
You people need to chill the fvck out....it's not that serious.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#41
Posted: 7/12/11 at 4:11pm
Wait, are you saying we won't be seeing the actor who plays Rapp's role's navel?
They will not be getting my money.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#42
Posted: 7/12/11 at 4:35pm
newintown--your nasty posts are ignorant of the court proceedings.

You are WRONG when you say that the Larsons sued Thomson for "saying that she helped write the show." That was a silly statement. It isn't a thing you can sue for and who-sued-whom is easily found online.

Thomson sued THEM. When she lost, she APPEALED the decision, saying that the first judge's decision was "clearly erroneous." She lost the appeal as well, with the second judge agreeing with the first judge.

Here, from the court records, which are easily available online at the link provided earlier by ghostlight2:

===

12. ...In a decision rendered from the bench, Judge Kaplan concluded that Thomson was not a joint author of Rent and dismissed the remainder of Thomson's complaint.

...54 Based on all of the evidence, the district court concluded that "Mr. Larson never regarded himself as a joint author with Ms. Thomson." We believe that the district court correctly applied the Childress standards to the evidence before it and hold that its finding that Larson never intended co-authorship was not clearly erroneous.

...CONCLUSION
64 The district court found that Jonathan Larson lacked the requisite intent to accept Lynn Thomson as a co-author of Rent. We hold that the district court properly applied the Childress v. Taylor test of co-authorship and that its factual finding with respect to Larson's intent is not clearly erroneous. We therefore affirm the judgment of the district court.

===

Newintown--for you to intelligently defend Thomson's contributions would make for an interesting discussion. The concept of work-for-hire and the position of ghostwriter are endlessly fascinating. Are the writers of the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mysteries owed anything more than the sums in their contracts? After all, Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon have been dead for decades.

There's also a fascinating discussion to be had about the positions of "dramaturg" and "director" on new plays. When do "helpful suggestions" become worth compensation? Ever?

But for you to come here and defend Thomson while attacking both Larson and his parents on PERSONAL grounds smacks of a nasty, hidden agenda.

The truth is this:

* Jonathan Larson never wanted a co-author.
* He signed an agreement with Billy Aronson giving Billy a share of the proceeds (the amount of which has never been revealed!) just so that Billy would NEVER turn around and sue him the way Thomson did.
* They remained friends and Billy never complained that he was mistreated or his contributions were undervalued.
* Larson refused NYTW's repeated requests that he take on a co-author.
* His written arrangements with Thomson and with NYTW made it very clear that despite her contributions, he was the SOLE author.
* NYTW gave her $2,000 for her work as dramaturg.
* The Broadway producers gave her $10,000 plus a royalty of $50/week.
* After Larson died, Thomson asked the Larsons for a "small percentage" of Larson's earnings. They offered 1%. She turned them down.
* Then Lynn Thomson sued, claiming for the first time that she was a "co-author." She asked for 16% or the right to have her contributions removed from the show.
* She lost the suit.
* She appealed.
* She lost again.


Updated On: 7/12/11 at 04:35 PM
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#43
Posted: 7/12/11 at 4:51pm
But you omit the finale - the family then settled out of court with Thomson for "an undisclosed amount of money and a credit for Ms. Thomson as dramaturge on the title page of the Rent playbill."

And the Larsons actually did counter-sue Thomson, despite your claim otherwise.

I've never met the Larsons (except for Jonathan), so your accusations of a "personal agenda" is groundless (as well as just bitchy). My only interest in the case is only moral. The family acted badly, out of guilt (possibly) and avarice (definitely).

Like I wrote earlier (you may not have read the entire thread), Larson's friends and colleagues testified that Larson spoke of Thomson as a significant contributor to the show (you may be right that the word "co-author" was never used, but that's a game of semantics over meaning). That's significant.
End of the RENT case
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#44
Posted: 7/12/11 at 4:56pm
The countersuit was after the appeal, not at the time of Thomson's initial suit.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#45
Posted: 7/12/11 at 4:57pm
"The family acted badly, out of guilt (possibly) and avarice (definitely)."

I still don't see how you arrive at that with such certitude.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#46
Posted: 7/12/11 at 5:40pm
I don't really care how involved the Larsons are. All I know is that if this production is a copy of what was on Broadway, then I would be less inclined to want to see it. I have seen the original production numerous times already. I would want to see something creatively new.
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#47
Posted: 7/12/11 at 5:55pm
Just give the world Love.
Updated On: 7/14/11 at 05:55 PM
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#48
Posted: 7/12/11 at 6:09pm
Whew. I hate to be a pain, but how much difference an apostrophe makes! Since clearly "Larson's" is not a possessive in the title (Larson's what??), I took it as a contraction "Larson is unhappy" and thought somehow Johnathon had managed to send a notice of his dissatisfaction!

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Larsons unhappy with RENT#49
Posted: 7/12/11 at 6:52pm
"hyperbole, you're willfully ignoring the difference between the productions- Towson rented the officially licensed show from MTI, which they altered without permission. The off-Broadway production is working with the copyright holders, and nothing in this unsourced, possible libelous gossip suggests that the changes being made are done have been done so without permission. What exactly is being changed is immaterial to the comparison."

I'm not ignoring anything, Towson changed the plot, the new production is (reportedly) changing the music. The only way this would be okay is if it was agreed to by the rights holders. If only there were an easy way to determine who the copyright holders are...

http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?Search_Arg=V3434D804&Search_Code=REGS&PID=nOl5GUT-fNNtr1xSAhBjV0I3x8&SEQ=20110712184043&CNT=25&HIST=1

If the premise of this thread is true, these alterations are specifically not in accordance with the wishes of the rights holders. More importantly, I'm just wondering where all our fake outrage over meddling with prior works ran off to? Or is the line drawn between "libretto" and "music"?
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Larsons unhappy with RENT#50
Posted: 7/12/11 at 8:04pm
hyperbole--no one really cares about Towson anymore. We're just happy to have a chance to slap newintown around, because he comes on here all the time assuming that the GOSSIP he hears and maliciously repeats is anything more than that: gossip.

He also consistently asserts his opinion as fact, which is never a winning argument--in a debating club, on the Internet or in real life.

So getting back to the facts about Rent, newintown, you say:

"Larson's friends and colleagues testified that Larson spoke of Thomson as a significant contributor"

Does that entitle her to 16% of the authorship? No. Many people make "significant contributions" to a new play or musical. Especially dramaturgs. It is, I believe, their JOB.

Did she do more than her job? Clearly. How much more? We'll never know.

Did she write lyrics and dialogue and define characters, as she says? Then it was her responsibility to sit down with him and say, "Listen, Jonathan. You and I both know that the worth of my contributions has vastly exceeded the $2000 New York Theatre Works paid me. I love this show. I love YOU. I'd like to go on working with you in the same fashion, but I don't think either of us would want me to do so without compensation."

She had ample opportunity to do that before Larson died. Given that he had already done so with Billy Aronson, he clearly would have done so with her...if he had considered such compensation appropriate and earned.

But the issue is not really what Thomson did. The issue is how you pushed your way into this discussion with an agenda to vilify Larson and his parents and spew some MADE-UP NONSENSE accusing them of withholding health insurance to their dying son.

Honestly.

Have you no shame?
Updated On: 7/12/11 at 08:04 PM