Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Python stars 'not shifty people'

Terry Jones and Michael Palin were in court for the Monty Python profits case
Terry Jones and Michael Palin were in court for the Monty Python profits case

The Monty Python team were not "unpleasant shifty people" trying to do people out of their just deserts, the High Court has heard.

Three Pythons - Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin - sat alongside each other as their counsel, Richard Spearman QC, said they had no animus towards film producer Mark Forstater.

"These are not unpleasant shifty people trying to do people out of their just deserts.

"They reckoned, and they were right, that he had already got a pretty good deal and here he was, coming back for more, which they weren't prepared to give."

Mr Forstater, who produced Monty Python And The Holy Grail, wants an equal share with the five surviving Pythons in profits from spin-offs of the 1975 classic film - especially the hit live musical Spamalot.

Mr Justice Norris has been told that it was the worldwide commercial success of Spamalot that appeared to have led to a cut, in 2005, in the size of Mr Forstater's share of the profits from Grail spin-off merchandising which he had enjoyed for almost 30 years.

Counsel Tom Weisselberg said that the film producer was entitled under an agreement made in 1974 to equal treatment with the Pythons - but the Pythons said they could not recollect any agreement. Mr Weisselberg said his client was in difficult financial circumstances and had been forced to bring the proceedings.

Mr Spearman said there was nothing in the claim that for financial purposes, Mr Forstater was to be treated as the "seventh Python" - it was a "myth".

The action is being brought by Mr Forstater and his company Mark Forstater Productions Ltd against Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd (PMP), which represents the film interests of the Python team, and Freeway Cam (UK) Ltd, which holds the copyright in the Holy Grail as trustee for those entitled to profit from it.

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.

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