Friday, February 25, 2011


Last night, I read an hysterical review in The New Yorker, dated Feb. 28, about "Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark," the new show on Broadway by U2's Bono and his guitar player, who calls himself The Edge (WTF?).

John Lahr quotes the nutty right-wing TV commentator Glenn Beck as saying the troubled production is "the best show I've ever seen. Bar none. Heads and shoulders above anything else." Why? Because, "I want to see if Spider Man falls on the audience."

That's funny. Old weird Glenn seems to have a sense of humor. Amazing. I thought he was just a rich over-publicized jerk.

Lahr goes on to say that the Spider Man show is "a schizoid experience, a combination of inspired technical accomplishment and narrative impoverishment, in which everything happening behind the actors is brilliant and everything happening between them is banal."

My question is, why is the show so bad? Bono and The Edge -- (WTF? He should add that to his name.) -- are good musicians. I love some of their work, especially with Leonard Cohen on "Tower of Song." (Link below.)  

Even though I have not seen the Spider Man production, and don't intend to, I think I have the answer: I bet they didn't spend enough time developing the story.

You know Pixar Animation? ("Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," etc. Link below.) I heard one of their guys on NPR, and he said they spend five years developing a movie. Three of those years are devoted to the story.   

Wow! Three years on the story? That is great, and almost unheard of in Hollywood, where scripts are often written in three weeks. Legend has it that Sylvester Stallone wrote the original "Rocky" (a great movie, BTW, IMHO) in 82 hours.

I believe three years is reasonable to develop a story. Creativity takes time. It isn't just a burst of light, like a flashbulb going off. I spent nine years and six full drafts writing and rewriting "The Disappearance of Maggie Collins," my first big (unpublished but near miss) novel, for example. (More on that in a later post.)

Back to Spider Man. It sounds like Bono, The Edge (WTF), and Julie Taymor spent about three weeks (or three days) developing the story for Broadway.

Anyway, it's too bad their show is having problems. But it is kind of funny to watch them struggle with it. You can't be all things to all people, boys. I don't think it's easy to cross over from singing and playing the guitar to storytelling.

Some people believe that just because they are successful in one field, they can jump into a related field and fly like an eagle. Not always true. This eagle has not yet landed. Or flown.

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment.


-- Roger
Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle 

The Leonard Cohen song:
Pixar's creative process:
The New Yorker:


Sharine said...

Roger, I agree that one talent does not necessarily lead to another!

But when you - and by "you" I mean "Bono and The Edge (WTF)" - have more money than 93.67% of all the world's nations combined, you can do pretty much WTF-ever you want.

Including creating an epic Broadway fail!

What's that old entertainment industry saying? It doesn't matter what they say about me, as long as they keep talking!

Roger R. Angle said...

Thanks for the comment. I think their egos ran away with them.