Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spider-Man Musical: Is Riedel Spinning Web Of Deceit?

Spider-Man Musical: Is Riedel Spinning Web Of Deceit?

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.

The extensive work being done to prep for the technically demanding show ... is said to have stopped this week.
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 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).

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At 19 August, 2009, Anonymous Monica said...

My thought is that Cumming and Wood might still be signed on because they truly believe that this musical will happen and it will go on. The producers might have told them, "Hey, you can go now," but they might not want to leave this project.

Also, can you really trust a source that is simply referenced as "a source"?

At 19 August, 2009, Blogger Esther said...

After all the millions of dollars that have already been spent I have to believe that something can be salvaged!

At 19 August, 2009, Blogger crossoverman said...

I much prefer the source "a rep for the actress" rather than Reidel's "source" since he clearly has an agenda. For a start, he seems gleeful at the prospect that it will fail - which automatically makes me hope the show will go on. Second, the few other reports are worrying but even-handed and level-headed.

Even with tickets still on sale, it's difficult to be optimistic about this - since stopping work is always a sign of a production in trouble. But as Esther says, surely something can be salvaged.

Here's hoping there is more clarification before single tickets go on sale to the general public in September!

At 19 August, 2009, Anonymous chris caggiano said...

I have no definitive info, but I do know that a friend of mine was supposed to move to NY to work on the show. He's not moving anymore.

The truth, as is so often the case, is likely to be somewhere in between Riedel's gleeful vitriol and the puffed-up press releases of the mother ship.

At 20 August, 2009, Anonymous Frankie said...

It seems to me with all the very big players involved something will be sorted out. Marvel, U2 and Sony certainly have the clout to make it work if they want to. I think they are being fiscally responsible and sorting things out 6 months before the first performance.

At 21 August, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

This show WILL GO ON...too much talent with Taymor, Berger, Bono and The Edge. It will "hold the mirror up to nature" and take NY then the world by storm. BET ON IT.

At 17 September, 2009, Blogger Unknown said...

The 'Cash Flow Problems' mentioned were actually the ongoing negotiations between Marvel & Disney, which resulted in the recent purchase of M by D.

Spiderman was one of Marvel's major assets & please remember that one of the reason's Disney wanted to do this deal is that Taymor who helms the musical is the director behind 'The Lion King' stage musical, one of Disney's greatest cash cows.

At 17 September, 2009, Blogger crossoverman said...

@James - that's entirely false. Marvel Studios actually has no money in "Turn Off the Dark". Disney might have a pre-existing relationship with Taymor but the Marvel/Disney merger was neither precipitated by Turn Off the Dark nor will it help it, since one of the major stakeholders in the musical is Sony Entertainment - which owns the movie franchise.

I really want Turn Off the Dark to go on, but Disney buying Marvel isn't necessarily the answer.

At 25 September, 2009, Anonymous Thomas said...

It seems to me as though there is a lot of back-and-forth about this whole deal. Personally, I think it could very well be something worth watching. I plan on keeping my eye on this one. Speaking of keeping eyes open. I'm not too sure about this Reeve Carney guy. He just seems a little too, well, emo-fem for a superhero. (No offense) However, I did catch a glimpse of this cheese-ball:
Cheesy or not, I wouldn't mind seeing him along side Ms. Wood. I've got a good feeling for this show... in fact, I might even go so far as to say, "my Spidey Sense is tingling!"

At 15 September, 2010, Anonymous webtains said...

Excellent, well written and really helpful post, as always. Glad we have someone to keep us on the right track ! webtains


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