It turns out the NYT's Arts & Leisure Weekend's one sure-fire newsmaking event -- a January 8 conversation between "Spider-Man" director Julie Taymor and NYT theater reporter Patrick Healy -- has been quietly cancelled.
Without making any public announcement, the NYT sent a refund notice yesterday to ticket-holders already going to the session. But it's still listed on the front page of its online schedule -- it doesn't even rate a red "cancelled" banner over the listing -- and when you click to buy tickets, the site says only: "The chosen event is not available for sale at this time. Please choose a different event."
Translation: it ain't happening, folks. And we all know why. It has to do with the mess that is "Spider-Man," and maybe even the aggressive way the NYT has been covering the story.
From the beginning, Healy's coverage of the production has poked at its high cost, its shifting start dates, its lack of adequate investment, and its dangers.
Starting in October -- when an actor named Kevin Aubin was injured during a demonstration of the show's special effects -- Healy has kept up the heat on Taymor and "Spider-Man." The NYT's Dave Itzkoff broke the news of the December 20 accident that left actor Christopher Tierney in the hospital with multiple injuries.
In a daring stunt of its own, the next morning NYT posted on its website 8 seconds of terrifying amateur video of the accident -- likely to become a veritable Zapruder film in the annals of this troubled production.
That can't have made anyone happy.
The show's opening has been moved to Febuary 7. Meanwhile it has been jammed for previews, despite widespread criticism of Taymor -- who Broadway actor Adam Pascal said should be brought up on assault charges. NYT commenters have been nearly unanimous in their attacks on the show and its director.
We wrote to Healy twice about the cancelled event; still no reply.
We did reach Rick Miramontez, the publicity agent for "Spider-Man," who referred our questions to Taymor's own publicity agents.
We asked Miramontez via email if either Taymor or the producers of "Spider-Man" are satisfied with the NYT's coverage.
"Please ask us next week," Miramontez replied, cryptically.
Meanwhile, don't despair. Some $30 tickets are still available to see Gail Collins interview Katie Couric.
UPDATE: About three hours after we posted this story, NYT arts reporter Dave Itzkoff posted about Taymor's withdrawal from the event on the NYT's Arts Beat blog.