She sues,they sue: Sounds like a B’way musical tune.

From all the gossip, we knew it would happen: Julie Taymor, the erstwhile director of the B’way music Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark (I really dislike that subtitle. I mean, why?), sued the producers for breach of contract, or whatever.

So now the producers are suing Julie Taymor. Back atcha! For her “‘hallucinogenic’ and lurid vision of the show and said she routinely rejected advice.” I wonder whether this suit, filed in what the Daily News calls “Manhattan Federal Court” — actually known as Southern District Court — is a counterclaim to her suit, or a separate one. (The Skush-O’Briens filed a counterclaim to my lawsuit against them, when they answered my lawsuit.) From the excerpted phrases in the Daily News, this lawsuit sounds like sour grapes.

If I weren’t about to make an Indian-spiced lentil soup (package lentils or dried peas, cover them with broth, put in a bunch of whole cloves and peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth, add turmeric and cook til soft), and vacuum, and go out to get more newspapers so that I can find more lawsuits, I’d go into the federal court data base → (link in Sites of Interest) and look it up. But gee, I really don’t want to.

I wish I didn’t have anything to say about this. But I do.

At the time I worked in the film business, the personage of “Director” was being transmogrified, deified really, into “Auteur.” Well, I mean directors and their agents were demanding an auteur status on their films. So instead of getting that last credit at the beginning credit roll of the film, directors were now being named right at the top, even before the credits. Even before the title.

“A film by —.” That’s how the credit could read, and after release, the film would be referred to as the director’s movie.

I guess everybody got jealous of the French, who originated the whole auteur concept, but with small, inexpensively made films. Hold onto that reality: auteurism = low budgets.

I knew a lot of directors (French, British and American), some of them really great. I had no particular objection to certain directors being cited as auteurs. They were. Indeed, I watched some directors being auteurs. (It was really interesting.)

A movie wasn’t simply a vision. A movie’s guts and bones could come from the director. (I’m immediately thinking of the Godfather films, and Francis Coppola. Well, the first two Godfather films, anyway.)

But once studios conceded auteurism to directors, things got out of hand. For one thing, every director demanded auteur status. Pretentious mediocrities were now auteurs. I remember reading about one not-brilliant director’s “vision” on a film, his autocratic demands for a dangerous stunt that killed at least one performer. Death for a lousy action-adventure? Sickening.

Movies are entertainment. That’s it. They can be stirring, exciting entertainment but they are just entertainment. Broadway musicals are entertainment. They are not profound, life-changing experiences.

If producers hire a director as gifted, as imaginative as Julie Taymor then they must let her do her stuff. Or set up agreed upon controls in the contract.

And they all have to stop spending obscene amounts of money on these productions! If directors want to be auteurs, then producers should hand ’em the budgets of French films.


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