Julie Taymor's Lawsuit Over 'Spider-Man' Musical Goes Live Again
Taymor and producers haven't yet agreed upon a final settlement. If no deal can be worked out, a trial is scheduled for May.
The lawsuit brought by Julie Taymor against producers of the Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, is back on for now.
In August, Taymor and producers including Michael Cohl's 8 Legged Productions told a New York federal judge that they had reached a preliminary settlement. The case was then dismissed.
But in the months since, the parties have been having trouble putting the final touches on the deal that would resolve dueling claims. Taymor is suing on allegations that the musical continued to make use of her creative contributions even after she left. 8 Legged has brought counterclaims that stated she failed to live up to her obligations on the high-profile show.
On Thursday, unable to come to an agreement, the parties agreed to revive the lawsuit with hopes that at some point, a settlement could be finalized. If no deal comes to fruition, there will be a trial in May.
The preliminary settlement seemed to put an end to a bitter dispute over the most expensive musical in Broadway history that premiered for previews in November 2010. The show had a rough start with early bad reviews and various stunt injuries. Taymor was let go from her position of director due to artistic differences in March 2011 and first pursued arbitration over $500,000 in claimed royalties.
In November, 2011, Taymor sued, alleging that as a co-owner of the book of the musical, she had a copyright claim to the show's underlying material. She said that the present show was still substantially similar to her own contributions that she was entitled to ongoing money. The producers hit back with counterclaims that alleged it took "superhuman efforts" to save the production from Taymor's refusal to take direction.
After a flurry of summary judgment motions in July and August, the parties suddenly announced a deal.
But it turns out there was enough differences to drag the dispute on for months. The parties have repeatedly begged the judge for extensions.
For example, on December 19, Taymor's attorney Charles Spada urged the judge not to "restore the action" to the court calendar as it might jeopardize the settlement-in-principle.
"If the litigation and active discovery immediately resume, the acceptability to all parties (and the insurer) of the agreed financial terms could be substantially impaired," he wrote. In addition, we fear that the negative publicity that would be generated by a reinstatement of the litigation could jeopardize future settlement of the case."
The judge agreed to extend the deadline to January 9.
On Thursday, after that deadline came, the parties were still unresolved, so Spada wrote again.
"While the parties are hopeful that a final settlement can be reached within the next few days, in light of Your Honor's expressed reluctance to further extend the deadline under the Order, and in order to preserve the parties' rights, we respectfully request that the above-captioned action be immediately restored to the Court's docket."
The case is now being referred to a magistrate judge for a settlement conference. No word on what is keeping the parties from executing a final settlement in a lawsuit that has been marked by blame and tension. Bloomberg News first reported about the settlement difficulties.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @eriqgardner
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