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Broadway | The Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark canceled both Wednesday performances to test new safety measures following the Monday-night fall that left a stuntman hospitalized with broken ribs and internal bleeding. The cancellation of the sold-out evening show was announced just three hours before showtime at the Foxwoods Theatre. Tonight’s performance is expected to go on as planned.
Producers and creators met privately on Tuesday with the entire company to address safety concerns about the $65-million musical, the most expensive and technically complex in Broadway history. Although accidents in theater productions aren’t uncommon, it’s unusual for there to be four injuries before a show has officially opened. MTV offers some context. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]
Broadway | The fall that seriously injured an actor Monday night in the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was the result of human error, the Actors’ Equity Association said. Christopher Tierney, the 31-year-old aerialist who doubles for Spider-Man and two villains, remains in serious but stable condition after the cable to his safety harnesses snapped, sending him tumbling as far as 30 feet into the orchestra pit. As we reported on Tuesday, today’s matinee has been canceled while the show enacts additional safety measures. However, tonight’s performance will go on as scheduled.
Amid criticism from Broadway actors and calls for the plug to be pulled on the $65-million production — Tierney is the fourth Spider-Man performer to be injured — director Julie Taymor issued a statement, calling the accident “heartbreaking”: “I am so thankful that Chris is going to be alright and is in great spirits. Nothing is more important than the safety of our Spider-Man family and we’ll continue to do everything in our power to protect the cast and crew.” Meanwhile, the New York Post — home to theater columnist Michael Riedel, who’s gleefully chronicled the musical’s many setbacks — quotes one unnamed investor as saying, “We should cut our losses and just get out,” while another worries about potential lawsuits. The Daily Beast provides a timeline of the delay-plagued production, while Mark Evanier offers commentary. [Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark]
Broadway | The planned Jan. 11 opening for the $65-million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark likely will be pushed back again, Kim Masters reports. Yet despite technical problems, actor injuries and repeated delays, preview performances are selling at an impressive 98.2 percent capacity. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Roland Kelts provides commentary on the passage by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly of controversial legislation to further restrict sexual content in manga and anime: “Now we have Version 2 of the non-existent youth bill, with its opaque language promising to monitor depictions of fictional characters government officials decide are too young to be engaging in the fictional activities government officials decide are too harmful to real youth that government officials decide are too youthful to view or read about them. Meanwhile, it remains legal in Japan to possess child pornography, live-action or illustrated, rendering most attempts at enforcement toothless.” Meanwhile, Japan Real Time, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal report on the new ordinance and the surrounding controversy. [TCJ.com]
Comic strips | Tribune Media Services has announced it will cancel the 70-year-old comic strip Brenda Starr rather than find replacements for writer Mary Schmich and artist June Brigman, who have decided to end their lengthy run. The final installment will appear on Jan. 2. Created by Dale Messick, the flame-haired reporter debuted in The Chicago Tribune on June 30, 1940, and later appeared in comic books and movies, and on merchandise. Messick retired in 1980, and has been succeeded on the strip only by women, from Ramona Fradon to Linda Sutter to Schmich and Brigman.
Kiel Phegley offers commentary, and catches a series of tweets from writer Dan Slott, who relates that his great-grandfather’s sister championed Brenda Starr at The Chicago Tribune. In related news, Tribune Media Services is partnering with Hermes Press on a multi-volume hardcover series titled Brenda Starr, Reporter by Dale Messick: The Collected Daily and Sunday Newspaper Strip. The first volume will be released in June. [press release]
Legal | A Belgian court has postponed until next week a hearing in the months-long trial over whether to ban Tintin in the Congo because of its racist portrayals of native Africans. The legal battle was launched three years ago by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese man living in Belgium, who wants the book removed from the country’s bookstores, or at least sold with warning labels as it is in Britain. An anti-racism group joined Mondondo in seeking the ban. Wednesday’s scheduled hearing was postponed after one of the plaintiffs withdrew from the case; however, the article doesn’t say which one. [Expatica]
Legal | Cartoonist Rich Koslowski discovers that winning a copyright-infringement lawsuit against a company that used his artwork without permission didn’t end the matter. More than a year later, Ontario-based Geeks Galore Computer Center still hasn’t complied with the judge’s order, and continues to use Koslowski’s art in signage and advertising. [Eye on Comics]
Publishing | Following its grim snapshot of year-to-date dollar sales in the direct market, ICv2.com has released a dreary analysis of the November charts: For the third time in 2010, the top-selling title failed to crack the 100,000-copy mark. Batman: The Return, priced at $4.99, sold about 99,500 copies, compared to the 144,000 sold by November 2009′s top title, Blackest Night #5. According to the retail news and analysis site, 20 of the Top 25 titles experienced a drop last month. As ICv2 noted last week in its initial report, dollar sales of comics were down 10.2 percent when compared with November 2009, while graphic novels jumped 14.84 percent, tied to the release of the 13th volume of The Walking Dead (it sold more than 19,000 copies). [ICv2.com]
Digital publishing | Google on Monday unveiled Google eBooks, a web-based e-book platform/digital storefront that boasts “the world’s largest selection of ebooks.” Dan Vado offers brief commentary. [TechCrunch]
Crime | A St. Louis retailer involved in an armed standoff in October when police attempted to arrest him on rape and weapons charges was found murdered Tuesday in a Missouri state park. Kenneth McClure, who operated Legends Comics & Sports Cards for more than two decades, was discovered shot to death about three hours after he failed to appear for a routine court hearing. Police say McClure’s 1992 Chevrolet Camaro was seen leaving the park Tuesday after the shots were fired, then found abandoned Wednesday morning.
The charges against the 57-year-old McClure stemmed from alleged sexual encounters with a 13-year-old girl between June 2008 and June 2009 at the comic store, where he lived in the basement. McClure recently gave Legends Comics to his nephew Everett “Sonny” McClure III. [Post-Dispatch]