Palin rejects "seventh Python" claim in court case

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

or spin-offs.

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

Spamalot.

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)