THE stars of the Monty Python films have expressed “outrage” at the suggestion a producer, suing them in a battle over royalties, should be regarded as “the seventh Python”, a judge has been told.
Mark Forstater, who produced Monty Python And The Holy Grail, is fighting for an equal share of the profits from spin-offs of the 1975 classic film, especially the hit live musical Spamalot.
Three of the six Pythons – Eric Idle and Michael Palin, both 69, and Terry Jones, 70 – are due to give evidence in the five-day legal action at London’s High Court.
Mr Forstater is suing all three and the two other surviving Pythons, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam who are abroad and not expected to give evidence, for an increased share of the Spamalot millions.
The sixth member of the team, Graham Chapman, died in 1989.
A judge has been told it was the “worldwide commercial success” of Spamalot that appeared to have led in 2005 to a cut in the size of his share of the profits from Grail spin-off merchandising which Mr Forstater had enjoyed for almost 30 years.
Tom Weisselberg, appearing for Mr Forstater, argued that, financially, 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 told Mr Justice Norris: “The outrage expressed by a number of Pythons in their witness statements as to the suggestion that Mr Forstater was to be treated as the seventh Python is, with respect to them, misguided.
“There is no suggestion that Mr Forstater would be writing jokes, but what was being agreed was that Mr Forstater would share equally with them in the profit in the work they were together putting in to create the film.”
He said the Pythons were “unjustifiably attempting to secure more money from Spamalot at the expense of Mr Forstater and his company”.
Mr Weisselberg added: “Mr Forstater is in difficult financial circumstances and has been forced to bring these proceedings.”