Streams

NY Suit over 'Spider-Man' Musical Airs in Court

Friday, June 01, 2012

Julie Taymor Julie Taymor (Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty)

A judge warned lawyers at the end of a two-hour hearing Friday that she may narrow the scope of a lawsuit stemming from the Broadway production of "Spider-Man."

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest said she had not yet decided whether to eliminate from the litigation a three-page outline that Director Julie Taymor created before the musical's script was written and before she was fired last year and the script was rewritten.

In a lawsuit, Taymor said the current hit Broadway production, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," was based on the unlawful use of her copyrighted written works. It said producers did not honor her right to approve changes to her book of the musical, and they have refused to pay her contractually guaranteed authorship royalties. The lawsuit said damages would exceed $1 million, and included demands for profits resulting from the unauthorized use of her material.

Taymor, who was not in court Friday, was fired in 2011 as the $75 million production sputtered despite three months of preview performances. The musical was rewritten and it successfully reopened. Taymor sued the producers in November and they countersued. The producers say Taymor's treatment was based on pre-existing "Spider-Man" comics and films.

During Friday's arguments, attorney Dale Cendali argued on the producers' behalf, saying what Taymor wrote in her original proposal for the musical assembled the most obvious elements of comic books and Spider-Man movies. She noted that Taymor cited the Spider-Man movie in her proposal, known as a treatment.

Cendali said she had "never seen a case where someone made a more blatant admission that they were copying an earlier work."

She added: "They can't monopolize Spider-Man. They don't own Spider-Man."

Arguing on behalf of Taymor, attorney Charles Spada insisted that his client created new material for the Broadway production, including a new character playing a pivotal role.

"There is originality," he said. "This is not just a case about a compilation." The judge said she would like to view a video of the Broadway production, though Cendali said she wanted precautions taken to ensure it does not appear on the Internet.

At one point, Forrest noted that she has special expertise on the hearing's subject.

"I've got a 10-year-old son. I know a lot about superheroes," she said.

The judge also is deciding the fate of counterclaims brought against Taymor by the show's producers. She did not hear arguments, saying she would rely on written submissions.

A trial is scheduled for January.

Updated at 6 p.m.

Tags:

More in:

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [1]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT wrote both the books and screenplays for the 1953 film THE JUGGLER Hollywood film made in Israel starring KIRK DOUGLAS and the 1950 Hollywood film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [Cochise]. The music for THE JUGGLER was composed by opera composer GEORGE ANTHEIL, in whose opera VOLPONE I sang the tenor leading role [Mosca] in its professional world premiere in NEW YORK in 1953. ANTHEIL, famous for his opera TRANSATLANTIC and BALLET MECHANIQUE looked exactly like Peter Lorre. I am a romantischer heldentenor. My Ten LanguageI have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. it can be heard from the live performance on my three websites, www.WagnerOpera.com, , www.ShakespeareOpera.com, and www.RichardWagnerMusicDramaInstitute.com. It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. The comments about all operas were once NEW implies that just being new is better than old. As a opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The bP[olitical Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. I would not trade any living composer for Bach, Beethoven, Mpzart, Verdi or Wagner. Revere and enjoy the MASTERPIECES of art, music, literature, architecture and science in its multiple formats. I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles.

Dec. 01 2012 09:46 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.

Sponsored

Feeds

Supported by