To read only New York Post columnist Michael Riedel, one might assume that the new Julie Taymor-helmed musical Spider-Man - Turn Off The Dark has completely spun out of control and was squashed before it ever had an opportunity to fully develop.
Over the past two weeks, Riedel has devoted three columns to Spider-Man. The first appeared the morning after Variety reported on August 6 that:
Rumors have spread among legiters that the production sked for incoming mega-musical Spider-Man - Turn Off the Dark may be threatened.Variety's Gordon Cox went on to state that representatives from the tuner said that the show would go on. Cox also said that despite concerns, Spider-Man was "generally expected to become the sales juggernaut of the 2009-10 season."
The extensive work being done to prep for the technically demanding show ... is said to have stopped this week.
The following morning, Riedel lashed the show with his first salvo:
The $45 million Broadway musical -- otherwise known as "The Show Produced By People Who Have No Idea What They Are Doing" -- is in deep, deep trouble.
But a Spider-Man spokesman insists: "The production is scheduled to begin previews on Feb. 25, 2010, as previously announced."
If that happens, I'll eat my young.
Just five days later, Riedel gleefully struck again, sticking a fork in a show he was all but calling dead:
When it comes to the greatest supervillain of them all -- The Riedeler -- Spidey has met his match.
The $45 million Spider-Man, directed by Julie Taymor and written by Bono and The Edge, is caught in my net, and I can report today that escape is virtually impossible.
The Web (as in World Wide) was immediately on fire with one news organization after another piling on. The situation was exacerbated further when Riedel took his fork and began twisting with one more August 14 shot at bringing down the show:
Hello Entertainment, the company run by twisting-in-the-wind Spider-Man producer David Garfinkle, continues to issue press releases insisting that this $45 million fiasco, which has suspended production, will start up again once "cash flow issues have been resolved" and begin previews Feb. 25 at the Hilton Theatre.
Hello Entertainment (which I suspect we'll soon be calling Goodbye Entertainment) might want to tell that to Evan Rachel Wood, who's playing Peter Parker's girlfriend, Mary Jane.
Wood, a charming actress, turned down a couple of movie roles to do the show. This week, her agents have been scrambling to get those offers back on the table.
"As far as they're concerned, it's over," says a source. "She's available for other work."
But hold on a minute.
Lost in all his columns and in the torrent of coverage from reporters too lazy to do their own digging was that tickets remain on sale for a show that isn't even scheduled to begin previews for another six months.
What's more, American Express, which is sponsoring the advance ticket sales, is still advertising the show with videos on major online news sites like The New York Times. I found the video campaign while perusing the Grey Lady's Culture & Arts - ArtsBeat Blog.
Finally, for those reporters worth their salt who have actually done a little digging like New York Daily News' Laura Scheffler, you get a different picture:
Despite cash-flow problems, the Spider-Man musical is on track,with its stars still caught in the Broadway show's web. Evan Rachel Wood is "100% committed - she didn't pull out," says a rep for the actress, who plays Spider-Man's love interest, Mary Jane Watson. Alan Cumming is still on board to play the Green Goblin, and sources say that Spidey himself has finally been cast: relative newcomer Reeve Carney has reportedly accepted the plum role. The actor's management didn't respond to calls for comment.
So is Michael Riedel spinning a Web of deceit? Is Spider-Man really back on track?
Stay tuned. We're bound to see many more stories before we know for certain.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).