LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Michael Palin was deadly serious,
Terry Jones yawned and Eric Idle looked like he was half asleep.
At London's High Court on Wednesday, proceedings in a case
over royalties from the hit musical "Spamalot" were distinctly
humourless, despite the presence of three out of six members of
the surreal comedy troupe Monty Python.
Palin took the witness stand and, under cross examination,
rejected the idea that Mark Forstater, who produced the group's
hit 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", would ever
have been considered the "seventh Python".
Forstater has taken legal action, arguing that under a 1974
agreement between him and the Pythons he was entitled to
one-seventh of profits derived from the film and any merchandise
He says that he has not received his fair share of profits
from Spamalot, the musical spin-off of Holy Grail which opened
on Broadway in 2005 and has enjoyed success in Britain as well.
"It might have been what he was seeking, but it was never
going to be accepted by the Pythons," Palin said.
"The idea of a seventh Python just doesn't happen ... I
don't think there was ever any suggestion this man was going to
be a 'seventh Python'."
Palin, wearing a dark jacket, open-necked blue shirt and
glasses, said he did not recollect a meeting where terms of the
agreement were laid out.
When pressed on negotiations with various partners during
the mid-1970s, he said there were details he could not recollect
more than 35 years later.
"We were working very, very hard, it was very last-minute,"
he said of the period just before the Pythons travelled to
Scotland to shoot Holy Grail.
Of Forstater, Palin said: "He was not the creator of the
film. The film had been created by the Python team entirely.
Mark was not part of our team."
Forstater, who was also in court, has said previously that
he believed he was owed 250,000 pounds ($400,000) in relation to
Idle and Jones, who sat at the back of the small, modern
courtroom in central London, occasionally chuckled at what was
being said, but mostly Idle had his eyes closed and Jones could
not resist a yawn.
The trial, which began on Friday, was scheduled to last four
to five days.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)