If you have been following much of the backstage turmoil that has been the mounting and production of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and thought that it would make a great movie, you are in luck. Currently, there is a documentary being completed that charts the show’s rocky genesis and highly publicized try-out period. The bad news is that it may never see the light of day due to some legal issues.
The documentary is the product of filmmaker Jacob Cohl, whose father, Michael, is the lead producer of the Broadway show. Cohl had been given unlimited access to the show’s development process, workshops and rehearsals, with the intent of producing marketing materials with which to sell the show overseas.
But early in the process it had become obvious to Cohl that he wasn’t capturing marketing material so much as he was a powerful backstage drama. Cohl was present when director Julie Taymor had several heated arguments with her various collaborators. He was there when actors performing in the high-wire harnesses famously began to get injured. He was there during a secret meeting between producers when they began discuss Taymor’s eventual firing. His cameras caught all the ugly key moments of the story.
And he kept the cameras rolling.
The hitch to being able to release the film that Cohl is currently editing comes in the form of the lawsuit that Taymor has filed against the show’s producers following her ouster as director. Among the things it is seeking, the suit asks that Cohl’s documentary be barred from using any footage of her, stating that to do so “would cause Taymor to suffer irreparable harm . . . to [her] future business prospects and commercial reputation.” And since Taymor is the not-so-calm-center of the hurricane that was the rehearsal process of the show, not being allowed to use footage of her shot during this time would severely and probably fatally hinder the doc.
Of course, the show’s producers dismiss her claim and have filed a counter-suit which in part states, “Taymor’s attempt to stop the documentary apparently because she is fearful that it may portray her in an unflattering light is a classic prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment.” It is understandable that the producers would want the documentary released as it would buttress their claims that Taymor was difficult to work with.
And as much as I admire Taylor’s film work, especially her Beatles jukebox movie musical Across The Universe, I have to admit that I have been saddened watching her reactions following her ouster from the director’s chair. And if she was so concerned about “[her] future business prospects and commercial reputation” then perhaps acting in a more restrained manner, especially when a camera crew was present, might have been the more prudent choice. And I hope that a judge rejects her claim and allows footage of her to be used. I have a feeling that the news reports that have covered the creation of this show have only scratched the surface which Cohl’s documentary promises to dive deeper under.
Source NY Post.