Lloyd Webber drops curtain on Dunaway row

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The Independent Online
It would have been the court case that could have inspired a musical: the ageing film star scorned by the powerful producer in her bid to play the role of the ageing film star scorned by the powerful producer.

Faye Dunaway and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber yesterday disappointed the legal profession, theatre historians and everyone looking forward to a star-spangled spat, when they settled out of court in the dispute over her dismissal from the Los Angeles production of Sunset Boulevard.

Miss Dunaway was claiming £4m in damages. Details of yesterday's settlement were confidential, though one source said the final settlement was lower.

Last summer, Miss Dunaway donned dark glasses to announce at a tear-stained press conference in Hollywood that Sir Andrew had humiliated her by dispensing with her services midway through rehearsals. He claimed that she could not fulfil all the singing requirements of the role.

In turn, Miss Dunaway claimed that Sir Andrew had been "peripatetic". Her lawyers were more forthright, claiming that Sir Andrew was guilty of "inflicting injury, reputational damage and pain and suffering in the victims of his random caprices".

yesterday, Miss Dunaway, who had been extremely keen to play the role of the silent film star Norma Desmond, said: "When strong personalities are separated by thousands of miles, the process of putting together a production as complex as Sunset Boulevardbecomes difficult at best, divisive at worst.

"I am pleased that we were able to patch up what has been a very painful public rift between us without an extensive courtroom battle."

Sir Andrew was also magnanimous. He said yesterday: "Faye Dunaway is an extraordinary talent. I hope our paths cross one day in happier circumstances where my regard for her abilities can be shown more fruitfully. I wish her every success in her future endeavours."

Sunset Boulevard has had almost as many off-stage as onstage dramas. The actress Patti Lupone, who opened the London production in 1993, also took legal action against Sir Andrew when she was passed over for the Broadway version.

The London show, which opened late after trouble with the set, had to be closed for several weeks for changes because Sir Andrew thought it could be improved. And at the end of last year its then star, Betty Buckley, had to go into hospital for an appendix operation and was replaced at short notice by Elaine Paige.