`Evita' puts spotlight on creative feud

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The Independent Online
A very English coolness between two knights of the realm could put a cloud on the Hollywood glitz of the film premiere of the year, when Evita opens in London tomorrow.

And whether even Madonna - the star of the film - can manage to get Evita's creators, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice, to share the same cinema is looking uncertain.

She certainly has not managed to get them to share the same room. When Madonna gives a press conference today she will have Sir Andrew at her side. But Sir Tim, who has been invited, will not be present.

Sir Tim failed to attend the American premiere in Los Angeles at the weekend, prompting Sir Andrew to say: "I don't know what gets into his head. He's a funny boy sometimes." Sir Tim was not available for comment yesterday. But his spokeswoman said: "Tim has other plans . . . He is not really a first-night person, though he might go as he hasn't seen the film of Evita yet.

Sir Tim's ex-wife, Jane Rice, entered the fray yesterday, complaining in a letter to a newspaper: "It would be helpful if journalists who write about Evita would not refer to it as an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical . . . It was Tim Rice's idea in the first place; all the initial research in 1974 was done by him, and every word of the show was written by him."

A close associate of Sir Andrew said yesterday: "Of course it's not just an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, but journalists probably write that because Tim never shows up." Sir Andrew's spokesman said: "Andrew is very much looking forward to seeing Tim on Thursday. We assume that he will be there."

It was also noticed that Sir Tim failed to attend the first night last month of another of their joint ventures, the West End revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. He said he was on holiday in Lowestoft at the time.

Sir Andrew's biographer, Jonathan Mantle, said yesterday: "Tim Rice has felt very aggrieved that he has been replaced over the last 18 years by so called jobbing lyricists. Lloyd Webber is a control freak who is prepared to blow out a friendship that Tim Rice thought would last for ever. Rice, I am sure, is resentful ...

"In a way it is appropriate that Evita should highlight their disillusionment with each other, for it was while working on the original in the Seventies that they began to get rather irritated with each other. Rice was too laid back for Andrew. He would go off and watch cricket instead of coming to meetings. Lloyd Webber hated that."

Adapting the original musical to film meant the director Alan Parker having to bring Rice and Lloyd Webber together. He had 146 changes to the original score and lyrics to submit to them. He also wanted one new song. Parker recalls: "The possibility of these two gentlemen ever collaborating again was, I was told by many who knew them well, an idealistic but not overly practical notion." They did eventually meet, but worked separately on the new song.