LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Three members of the Monty Python
British comedy troupe were in court in London on Friday for the
opening of a lawsuit over the profits from a spin-off of one of
their greatest hits, the 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy
Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones arrived together
and sat at the back of a small, modern courtroom to listen to
opening arguments in the case. All three are expected to give
evidence next week.
The Pythons are at odds with Mark Forstater, the producer of
the "Holy Grail", who says he has not received his fair share of
profits from "Spamalot", a spin-off musical.
Inspired by the original film, the musical opened on
Broadway in 2005 and has enjoyed a successful run in Britain
too. Idle wrote the lyrics and collaborated on most of the
Forstater, an American based in Britain, says that under a
1974 agreement between him and the Pythons, he is entitled to
one-seventh of profits derived from "Holy Grail" and any
merchandise or spin-offs (MSO).
His lawyer, Tom Weisselberg, told the court that for the
purposes of profit-sharing, it had been agreed in 1974 that
Forstater was "the seventh Python".
"Spamalot is a spin-off from the film and has been a huge
international commercial success," Weisselberg said in his
He said that Forstater had been receiving his seventh of the
profits from "Holy Grail" until 2005, when the Pythons had
unilaterally reduced his share to one-fourteenth.
In court, Forstater sat with his lawyer, with the Pythons
behind him. They did not talk. The Pythons listened with serious
faces and exchanged occasional whispers.
Forstater told Reuters outside the courtroom he had tried to
resolve the dispute with the five surviving Pythons: Idle,
Palin, Jones, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam, but that talks had
He said the amount he believed he was owed in relation to
Spamalot was 250,000 pounds ($400,000).
The three Pythons present in court declined to comment on
the case. Palin told Reuters he was there to observe and would
"do my bit in court when the time comes".
The trial is scheduled to last four to five days.
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon, editing by Paul Casciato)