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Tell-all book dishes on Broadway's 'Spider-Man'

"Song of Spider-Man" The Inside Story of The

"Song of Spider-Man" The Inside Story of The Most Controversial Musical In Broadway History by Glen Berger. Credit: Handout

The saga of the saga of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" continues, this time with a tell-all backstage memoir by the show's co-author, Glen Berger, whom Julie Taymor phoned in the middle of the night before she was fired to accuse him of betraying her.

This is just one of many insider tidbits in Berger's "Song of Spider-Man," scheduled for November release by Simon & Schuster but already fueling Broadway gossip in advance proofs. Berger, the least famous in the creative team that included Bono and The Edge, was hired by Taymor in 2005. After the visionary director/creator was dumped in 2011, Berger incurred her wrath by staying on to help overhaul the most delayed, most expensive, most injury-hexed mega-musical in Broadway history.

"I was incredibly dismayed when Julie was dismissed," he said Friday. "But I figured I may as well stay in the game to do what I could to contribute to protecting Julie's vision."

A few months after the $75-million spectacle finally opened to reviews that were mixed to negative in June 2011, the playwright says it hit him that he had a "strange amount of access" to "a really, really wild story. It is a story of great ideals that fall short. Really, no one else could write the story . . . I wanted to be able to look back at this moment with no regrets, artistically and ethically."

The show's producers declined to comment on the book because, according to a spokesman, "The producers haven't read the book nor has anybody else associated with the production . . . We look forward to reading it." A spokesman for Taymor, whose legal battles with the show were settled in April, said, "Julie has not read the book, so she has no statement."

According to Berger, Taymor phoned him for the first time in two years, just as the book was going into final copy editing. "We wound up talking for hours," he said, adding he had been "partly dreading, partly hopeful" about such a call. "It was totally friendly."

Grosses for the show, believed to have a weekly running cost between $1.1 million and $1.2 million, fell under $1 million last week for the first time since performances began in November 2010. The drop in attendance came shortly after dancer Daniel Curry became the latest cast member to be hurt in the production, severely injuring his foot in an onstage accident.

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