If you want to know what a tooth and claw legal battle is like.
If you want to discover something revealing about Monty Python and see their darker side.
If you want to know how to make a movie without giving the financiers all the rights and keep creative control in every known – and unknown – universe in perpetuity.
You should read The 7th Python.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a great, original comedy and the most profitable independent film made in the U.K. If you’d invested £1,000 in it, you’d have made £130,000 back. With more to come.
As a young man, Mark Forstater produced the film. He set it up so that the Pythons had total creative control. Each Python also made many millions. Mark got over 5 % of the profits. Everyone was happy – well as happy as John Cleese could be before he started therapy. Then golden icing on the cake: Eric Idle hit on the idea of turning the hit film into a musical. Spamalot was a smash. Spamalot was also cashalot for everyone involved and it should have been for Mark.
But the Pythons, or their managers, or their lawyers, or the gorilla in their collective unconscious, decided Mark didn’t deserve so much. No one used the word ‘deserved’. It was a question of how lawyers, accountants and managers re-interpreted his contract. Back in 1974, it had been amended by hand. Lawyers poured over these squiggles as if they were holy writ – apt since we’re into the Holy Grail.
Forstater decided he had to fight the battle of his life. After 7 years of struggle it came to court, where the judge, the lawyers and the Pythons were all Oxbridge men. Forstater, an American, had gone to Manchester. Yet he won. If there were a Nobel Prize for Bitching, Eric Idle would be proud to win it. In revenge he called Forstater a loser, an idiot and a twat. The twat, however, has now decided to speak.
An original, lively and at times moving account of the inside story of one man’s battle against the mighty Python.
The book is part memoir, part a history of the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and part an account of the dangers of seeking justice. Read and learn. Sue and risk losing your soul – and your shirt. Mark Forstater actually won the case but because of costs he and his family were left financially bereft.
For years, the Pythons ignored Mark’s pleas for them to play fair and instead let their minions, managers and lawyers deal with the case. So the problem grew to the point where their lawyer’s bills were approaching £ 1m. Lawyers never lose. The Pythons put on the 02 reunion shows to cover these costs.
The book includes extracts from Mark’s journals and the cross-examinations of Michael Palin and Eric Idle. Celebs insulate themselves with PR, managers and lawyers to maintain their public profile. This is an heroic tale of an underdog who battled against a group that called itself after the man who won El Alamein (Monty) and a deadly snake. Names r us so it’s not surprising Monty Python’s famous foot came down so hard on the unsuspecting producer.