Producer sues Pythons over 'Spamalot' royalties

November 30, 2012 - 2:34 PM
Britain Spamalot

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 file photo, pedestrians walk under the marquee of the Broadway show "Monty Python's Spamalot" at the Shubert Theatre in New York. A producer of the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is suing the comedy troupe over royalties from the hit stage musical "Spamalot." Producer Mark Forstater wants a bigger share of proceeds from the show, which is based on the 1975 movie spoof of the legend of King Arthur. Python members Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones are to give evidence during a five-day hearing that began Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 at London's High Court. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File )

LONDON (AP) — It's no joking matter.

A producer of the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is suing the British comedy troupe over royalties from the hit stage musical "Spamalot."

Producer Mark Forstater wants a bigger share of proceeds from the show, which is based on the Pythons' 1975 movie spoof of the legend of King Arthur.

Lawyers for Monty Python are contesting Forstater's claim and will present their arguments later. Python members Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones will give evidence during a five-day hearing that began Friday at London's High Court.

Forstater is suing the trio and the two other surviving Python members, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam. The sixth member of the troupe, Graham Chapman, died in 1989.

Forstater's lawyer, Tom Weisselberg, said under an agreement made when the film was produced, "for financial purposes Mr. Forstater was to be treated as the seventh Python" and entitled to the same share of "Holy Grail" merchandising and spin-off income as the other members.

That amounts to one seventh of the first 50 percent of such income, but lawyers for the Python troupe say he is entitled only to one fourteenth.

The lawyer said Forstater had not received his fair share of royalties from the stage show, which has been a hit around the world. It ran on Broadway for almost four years to 2009 and is still playing in London's West End.

Weisselberg said Forstater, who declared bankruptcy earlier this year, had been forced to go to court because of his "difficult financial circumstances."