March 6, 2012
Some can do no wrong. And no one can do any wrong quite like Bono and The Edge.
Criticism of theater, opera, and film director Julie Taymor by the overly biased U2 fan community: is this the primary reason that Bono and Edge are allowed to delude themselves with the notion that they did no wrong in the ugly divorce from the Spider-Man ex-Director?
Do we as fans sell the false narrative because it fuels and justifies our disdain for anyone who dares to go against the unblemished perfection of the U2 lead singer and guitarist? Overly protective U2 fans don’t want their heroes’ anywhere near human or even mere celebrity status—where sometimes ego, pride, and ambition take over. Taymor is Judas in the haters’ mind, the woman who betrayed Bono and The Edge.
New reports and published e-mails both claim Julie Taymor accused Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark producers including Bono and The Edge of making her a scapegoat to appease investors anxious about poor reviews and lack of financial success during the play’s previews. Taymor was booted when the budget soared and delays escalated fears of investors. Now, reports are out in which Bono is described as attending a crucial meeting drunk on beer with a bevy of supermodels. This meeting came a few days before Taymor was ousted by Bono and Edge themselves before using her firing as a launching pad for a second chance with the press and the Broadway public.
I don’t hate Bono or The Edge. I love U2. I’ve seen them in every tour since Elevation and have accumulated more air miles seeing them live than one can imagine. But to say that Bono and The Edge weren’t graceful in tough times and didn’t act according to what they sometimes preach needs to be said by fans—and seen as true by superfans.
In theatrical terms, Julie Taymor is a Michael Jordan. Taymor has received many accolades including two Tony Awards, and Emmy and even an Academy Award nomination. Her biggest mainstream hit, The Lion King is Broadway’s seventh longest-running show in history. Unfortunately, people forget that the play almost never reached the six month mark after a slow start in attendance compared with expectations from Disney. Sound familiar?
Bono and Edge more than anyone else, should know that art sometimes takes time to grow into its potential. They have no excuse to let an original artistic piece reach its climax. After all, aren’t these the same guys who gave time and air to their struggles in 1991 to eventually make Achtung Baby?
By not only not sticking to Taymor’s vision, but then using their public voice and goodwill to chastise her in the public arena, the U2 leaders showed an ugly side to their personality: a side one doesn’t usually see in Bono’s documentaries in Africa or while The Edge is helping save New Orleans. The side where manipulation and reputation mean more than everything. Even loyalty.
And sure, Spider-Man is now an economic success. But at what cost? The unique artistic vision of Taymor was sabotaged for a kid’s friendly, popcorn-style family musical about as artistic as an episode of The Jersey Shore. Maybe if Bono and Edge follow through on their artistic instincts, we will see another Joshua Tree, but don’t let your super fandom convince you otherwise: Bono and Edge didn’t act the way they taught us: with honor. –Jaime Rodriguez, Contributing Writer Follow Jaime on Twitter: @Jaimearodriguez
January 15, 2011
NEW YORK TIMES:
The producers and director of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” defended on Friday their decision to postpone the musical’s opening by another five weeks, saying that a show of this unprecedented complexity could not unfold according to Broadway tradition. New productions usually have four weeks of preview performances to work out kinks and not the record-setting 15 of “Spider-Man” before critics review it.
But several veteran producers were quite critical of the move, saying “Spider-Man” was setting a bad precedent by having audience members pay $140 to $275 for the best seats at a show that is still undergoing script, music, sound and lighting work, and that still lacks a big closing number. Some, breaking the customary silence that producers tend to extend to their colleagues, also charged that the delay was a ploy to make more money before critics offered their judgments.
As it stands, “Spider-Man” will have had roughly 110 preview performances before its new March 15 opening. The record for a musical was 71, set in 1991 by “Nick & Nora,” and the record for a play was 97, set in 1969 by “A Teaspoon Every Four Hours.” (That play, starring Jackie Mason, closed immediately after its opening night.) By its March 15 opening, if that holds, “Spider-Man” will have run longer in previews than some Broadway musicals have run in their entirety this season, like “The Scottsboro Boys” (94 total performances) and “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (99).
Michael Cohl, the lead producer of the $65 million “Spider-Man,” the most expensive musical in Broadway history, said the creators were still working on a splashy ending, including a major new flying sequence that was tested on Friday for state safety inspectors. He said the show’s composers, Bono and the Edge, of the band U2, were reworking music and lyrics. (Bono, however, has left New York; his return date is unclear.) And Mr. Cohl disputed the accusation that the opening-night delay — the fifth — was a tactic to gin up more publicity and sell more tickets. Despite bad press, “Spider-Man” was last week’s highest-grossing Broadway show.
“The best idea to market the show would be to open,” Mr. Cohl said in a telephone interview. “Our view is the same as Ernest and Julio Gallo: ‘It’s simply, no opening before its time.’” (A similar phrase was made famous by the winemaker Paul Masson.)
“Listen, this is a very different kind of Broadway show: a rock ’n’ roll circus drama, a piece of action theater,” he continued. Referring to the show’s Tony Award-winning director,Julie Taymor, he added: “A lot of theater people thought Julie was nuts when they heard what she was doing with ‘The Lion King,’ before anyone saw the final product. We’re not bound by old expectations of when to open or not to open. We’ll open when the show is ready to open.”
Mr. Cohl and the show’s other lead producer, Jeremiah Harris, said they had not seriously considered more drastic moves like putting the show on hiatus; Mr. Cohl estimated the creators needed about 90 hours of more work and rehearsals, much of which would be on the ending. Mr. Harris said that the creators needed audience members seeing the show to gauge laughter, applause and silences — and then make fixes accordingly — while Mr. Cohl said that the show was selling extremely well and that audience members were enjoying themselves over all.
“Our sales are strong, they continue to be strong, and that’s the best news of all,” Mr. Cohl said. “I think that says something about what’s happening in the theater every night. We want the show to be great, and we believe we can get to that point while we continue to hold performances.”
Ms. Taymor, in a separate phone interview, said that she was “finessing and finishing off some major elements of the story” and clarifying parts of Act II, which some audience members have criticized on theater blogs, Twitter and Facebook.
“I’m not changing the story, I’m trying to make it better,” Ms. Taymor said. She added that characters like the spider villainess, Arachne, and the so-called Geek Chorus of narrators, as well as a number entitled “Deeply Furious” that involves several female spiders dancing in high heels, would remain in the show with refinements, despite much drubbing by the public.
Usually such details are not part of the cultural conversation beyond Broadway insiders, but “Spider-Man” has broken wide across the public, largely because of the popularity of the comic-book hero at its center, the involvement of Bono and Edge and the recent injuries to four of the show’s performers. Ms. Taymor, for her part, said she was trying to block out all of the public and news media attention on “Spider-Man,” which has become a staple of late-night comedy and was discussed excitedly this week by Glenn Beck on his radio program and on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC.
But for all the enthusiasm that those radio and television hosts have exhibited toward “Spider-Man,” some veterans of Broadway show making expressed bewilderment over the delays.
“What the ‘Spider-Man’ people are doing is completely cynical,” said Jeffrey Seller, the Tony Award-winning producer of “In the Heights” and “Rent.” “It’s an end run around an actual opening night that would shine a tremendous amount of negative light on their superhero, while instead they’re riding on all the nonreview press the show is receiving because of its delays.