Julie Taymor has not been able to speak out since she was removed as director of Spiderman over a year ago. The legal documents have been speaking for her. But it looks like she is finally trying to reclaim her voice and gave an interview to Newsweek about all the trauma that has gone on since her scapegoating and firing.
Some details: after she was fired she sued the producers for copyright infringement and non-payment of royalties. The parties have settled some of those issues and she has been paid over $1 million in directing fees. (They still need to settle issues related to her copyright.) I know that $1 million seems like a lot, but the show has been grossing between $1.2 (on a slow week) and $2.9 million (over Christmas), so they are bringing in the dough, and owed her the money since she had conceived and directed the show for years.
The Spiderman story’s narrative has previously been told only by the Spiderman team. They talked about her being reckless and causing the injury of her cast and the other crap they had to say to give cause for firing her. One of the problems that is clarified in this piece is how important an out of town tryout is for a show (which we all have been seeing on Smash). The economics and the complexity of Spiderman prevented it from being able to get up on its feet before the NY critics got out their knives just hoping they would have some juicy stuff to write about.
I’m not exactly sure what made her speak out now, but is great to finally get a little bit from her.
The story is important because other theatre people are finally standing up for Taymor (about time!). Thomas Schumacher the head of Disney Theatricals who hired her for The Lion King (which is still running on Broadway) called her “a fantastic collaborator” (which is what the Spiderman producers said she wasn’t), and fellow theatre director Bart Scher said: “she’s the most innovative, creative, courageous, and deeply experienced innovator we have. There’s no way around that.”
The other news is that she’s getting back in the creative saddle and directing a Shakespeare play for Theatre for a New Audience and is working on two movies, an adaptation of Thomas Mann’s Transposed Heads, and a retelling of The Flying Dutchman called Riders in the Storm.
One thing you can be assured is that Taymor’s not going to take the easy road or the easy gig just to get back in the game which many people would do after this type of experience. She’s going to be who she is and do challenging projects which is exactly what we would expect of her and why everything Julie Taymor does will be an artistic event.
As a treat, here is Julie getting her Athena Film Festival Award from Gloria Steinem last February.
Julie Taymor Roars (Newsweek)
Julie Taymor Responds to Lawsuit Fighting for Her Reputation and Future Jobs (Women and Hollywood)