- - Sunday, February 19, 2012

'Spider-Man' producers end battle with former director

Producers of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” have agreed to pay the Broadway musical’s former director and co-book writer Julie Taymor hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties as part of a settlement that ends one chapter in the two sides’ bitter legal dispute.

The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the show’s producers, 8 Legged Productions LLC, announced the deal Thursday. No amount was officially disclosed but Ms. Taymor is owed at least $600,000 so far, based on estimates.

Under the deal, producers have agreed to pay Ms. Taymor full royalties as director from the beginning of previews in November 2010 through the end of the Broadway show, however long that is. According to industry estimates, she would qualify for royalties of about $10,000 per week.

The Tony Award-winner for “The Lion King” was fired in March 2011 after years of delays, accidents, critical backlash and ballooning costs that all pushed the show’s price tag to a record-setting $75 million. The settlement also grants Ms. Taymor royalties as a collaborator from November 2010 to March 2011, but defers payment to when the production pays back its investors.

The settlement does not end a federal copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Ms. Taymor against the producers and a countersuit filed by them against Ms. Taymor and her company, LOH Inc.

In the settlement announced Thursday, both sides pulled back from litigation just as they were undergoing arbitration proceedings.

The two sides also agreed to a compensation package for Ms. Taymor if any subsequent productions of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” are staged. Producers have mulled the possibility of touring the show or mounting a production somewhere else, such as Las Vegas.

In the still-ongoing legal dispute between the two sides, Ms. Taymor is seeking half of all profits derived from the sale or license of any rights in the original “Spider-Man” book. It also seeks a jury trial to determine her share of profits from the unauthorized use of her version of the superhero story, which the lawsuit said was believed to be in excess of $1 million.

The producers, for their part, responded that she “caused numerous delays, drove up costs, and failed to direct a musical about Spider-Man that could open on Broadway.” Her version of the superhero story, they assert, bears little resemblance to the show that is currently playing at the Foxwoods Theatre.

Penn criticizes U.S. right in meeting with Chavez

Actor Sean Penn criticized Republican presidential candidates during a visit to Venezuela on Thursday, saying that right-wing policies in the United States aim to benefit the wealthy.

According to the Associated Press, Mr. Penn made the remarks after meeting with socialist President Hugo Chavez at Venezuela’s presidential palace, when he was asked by a reporter about criticisms of Mr. Chavez by some Republican candidates.

Mr. Penn said he doesn’t think “the use of those exploitive sort of demonizations will be very beneficial to this crew of candidates.”

“That would be the least amongst their weaknesses,” Mr. Penn said. “It’s never predictable what can happen in an American election, but we certainly believe at this point that it’s becoming increasingly clear to the American people that the policies of the far right are the policies of the rich, and that they are to the exclusion of the middle class and the poor, and that no society has a future on that basis.”

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