Today's NY Times looks at the behind-the-scenes battle for control of the creative soul of psychedelic Beatles musical Across the Universe unfolding between Revolution Studios head Joe Roth and director Julie Taymor, in which Roth's helpful trimming of about a half hour from her cut and a subsequent test screening of his shorter version has a "helpless" Taymor threatening to take her name off the picture before it becomes a full-blown Rothian abomination. While Team Taymor carefully chose its words in responding to the Times' inquiry into the flap ("Sometimes at this stage of the Hollywood process differences of opinion arise, but in order to protect the film, I am not getting into details at this time."), Roth reminded everyone not to pay too much attention to the hysterical stage lady who can't take constructive criticism like a Mann:
He said that Ms. Taymor was overreacting to a normal Hollywood process of testing different versions of a movie, something he has done many times before, including with Michael Mann's "Last of the Mohicans." He called his version of "Across the Universe" "an experiment."
"She's a brilliant director," he said. "She's made a brilliant movie. This process is not anything out of the ordinary. Her reaction through her representatives might be. But her orientation is stage. It's different if you're making a $12-million film, or a $45-million film. No one is uncomfortable in this process, other than Julie."
And he warned that the conflict could hurt the movie. "If you work off her hysteria, that will do the film an injustice," he said. "Nobody wants to do that. She's worked long and hard, and made a wonderful movie."
Following his persuasive and sensitive argument (note his laudable tact in never once mentioning the phrase "on the rag," no matter how badly he wanted to say it), Taymor will probably come around and finally open herself up to "the process" she's so irrationally resisted until now, allowing fellow director Roth to share the cinematic gifts that made Christmas with the Kranks such an aesthetic triumph.