'Spider-Man' Is Given a New Lead Producer

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By Patrick Healy, New York Times

A rock concert promoter with ties to the Rolling Stones and U2 said on Friday that he was taking over as the lead producer of the coming Broadway musical "Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark," and that the troubled multimillion-dollar show would open sometime in 2010.

The producer, Michael Cohl, also confirmed that a relatively unknown actor named Reeve Carney had been cast in the lead role of Peter Parker and his alter ego, Spider-Man.

Mr. Cohl has never been lead producer of a major Broadway show before, though he has been a co-producer of "Spamalot." Still, he is widely regarded in the entertainment community as a man with deep pockets, a Rolodex packed with investors and a knack for presenting entertainment spectacles.

In a telephone interview Mr. Cohl said that he had previously been only an investor in "Spider-Man," and was taking command of the financially troubled project at the behest of U2's Bono and the Edge, who together wrote the music and lyrics for the show.

"I was on my honeymoon in Spain in late August and they called and said, 'C'mon, think about it,' " said Mr. Cohl, who spoke after meeting in Times Square on Friday with other producers and the creative team for the show.

Production work on "Spider-Man" has been delayed off and on since August. The previous lead producer, David Garfinkle, could not raise money for the show, which executives with the production have said would ultimately cost more than $50 million -- by far the most expensive in Broadway history. Mr. Garfinkle is remaining on board as a producer, according to a statement from the producers.

"Spider-Man" is technically still scheduled to begin previews on Feb. 25, 2010. Mr. Cohl declined to say if that date would hold or if the show's opening would be by April 29, in time to compete for this year's Tony Awards.

Two other executives involved with the production said on Friday that the plan was to push the opening of "Spider-Man" into the summer. The show's director, Julie Taymor, has concluded that rehearsals could not begin before January, according to these executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the production. Ms. Taymor declined a request for an interview.

The producers' statement on Friday also said that Jeremiah J. Harris, the chairman of PRG -- a company that provides technical and design work for Broadway shows -- was now the second producer of "Spider-Man." PRG's scene shop is working on "Spider-Man" and is one of the businesses the show owes money to, according to the two executives. Mr. Harris did not return telephone calls or e-mail requests for comment.

Mr. Cohl said he was "very close to having in place the financing that we need and getting everyone back to work on the musical." But he would not confirm the $50 million budget estimate. Mr. Cohl, who made his name promoting the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels tour in 1989-90, said his personal investment in the show would be less than $10 million.

Mr. Cohl, who is a former chairman of Live Nation, the company that owns the Hilton Theater that "Spider-Man" is set to occupy, said he was not overly concerned about any cut-off dates for use of the theater or the rights to Spider-Man from Marvel Comics.

Mr. Cohl also injected home-town confidence, noting that the Yankees were celebrating their 27th World Series championship in Manhattan on Friday.

"Today we have a team in New York that spent millions of dollars to win a championship," Mr. Cohl said. "Sometimes it takes a lot of money to build a championship team, and that's what we're doing."

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on November 8, 2009 7:36 AM.

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