Posts filed under ‘Monty Python Trial’

A Twat’s Tale

The 7th Python is sub-titled A Twat’s Tale. The reason is because sore loser Eric Idle, when interviewed by Ben Williams of Time Out about the reason behind the 02 reunion said, ‘We were meeting last August in gloomy circumstances because we had just been sued by this twat.’ Later on the gracious Idle told Alan Yentob on Imagine (BBC1), “We’ve been involved with this idiot who was one of the producers on Holy Grail and he has spent seven years suing us. So what it meant was it cost us a million quid to defend ourselves.” On The Meaning of Live, he also said, “Seven years he’s been pursuing us, seven years; it’s cost us a million quid, with lawyers, just to turn up and say no, that’s not true, to defend yourself.” Eric also called me a loser which is odd since Eric fails to mention that they lost the case and the 7 years defending themselves could have been reduced to no time or cost at all if they had just looked at the evidence and agreed to negotiate. But they didn’t. There were 4 distinct points where a settlement could have been achieved but in each case they (for some reason) decided not to settle. This led John Cleese to say, “And we were kind of laughing about it, you know, nobody was in despair, it’s insane- Why didn’t we settle 5 or 6 years ago?”

Why didn’t they settle 5 or 6 years ago? They had every opportunity. I never wanted to go to court, and I never thought they would want to put themselves on trial. But they did. It’s one of the mysteries of this case, one of the unanswered questions I still have about what was really going on with them. However the book does sweep the curtain aside and show the real Oz.

November 11, 2015 at 10:48 am Leave a comment

The 7th Python

I have a new book coming out soon. It tells the story of my epic 7 year battle with the Monty Python group to restore my share of the merchandising profits of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I produced in 1974. In 2005, after Spamalot started to bring in considerable income, they tried to reduce my share of profits (after 30 years of paying it like clockwork). The film reveals a different and darker side to the Pythons than the image they have presented to the public for so many years, and it also shows how celebrities become reliant on their managers and lawyers to autonomously deal with things on their behalf, leading to the kind of not so benign negligence they dished out to me.

I am still bewildered as to why they couldn’t settle my claim as soon as it became apparent that the evidence was overwhelmingly in my favour. I also don’t understand why not one of them attempted to intervene and stop the expensive nonsense that the court case became. None of them rang me or wrote me to ask about the truth; they just let their minions deal with it, until the cost became so great that they were forced to defend the case in court.

Eventually they lost some £ 1.3m and had to put on the O2 shows to pay their bills. The book tells the history of the film, details my relationship with the Pythons, and examines the legal battle and eventual court case. I have included parts of Eric Idle and Michael Palin’s cross examination in court, which reads sometimes like a Python sketch and sometimes like a modernist play.

October 11, 2015 at 7:32 pm 2 comments

Airbrushed Out Of History

I never thought I would share a destiny with Leon Trotsky. Even though we are both Jewish (he was born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein) there is not much we have in common. The one thing we share is that we have both been airbrushed out of History.

After Lev broke with Stalin, Stalin had his publicity department airbrush Lev out of the photos that showed Lev’s role in creating the Soviet Union, in particular his role as the leader of the Red Army. He became one of the disappeared.

Watching Episode 4 of Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) I began to understand how Lev must have felt. This episode dealt with the making of Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and I was intrigued to see that they managed to discuss the production of the film without interviewing or even mentioning the Producer of said film – i.e. me.   There is one photo in which I appear but am unidentified.

This airbrushing was done because when this series was made I was already in dispute with the Pythons over Spamalot royalties. It did not suit their case to showcase my role in  setting the film up in the way they wanted, and which benefited them enormously. So they just removed me from history. ‘Almost The Truth’ says it all.

August 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm 1 comment

Healing Python Wounds

I was interviewed today by Frances Hardy,a reporter from The Daily Mail. They want to print an in depth story about my Python case on Saturday.

I told Frances the history of my involvement with the Holy Grail film, and also the circumstances in which the Pythons and I parted company. I didn’t realise I would feel so sad after this interview, but it was clear that dredging up old and painful memories left its mark on me.

I had blamed myself for this break-up for many years, and of course regretted it, since the team went on to make two more films, and Terry Gilliam, who I was closest to, had become a feted director. I regretted not having been involved in those films, but the train had moved on.

When I realised that my dispute with the Python management over my royalties was not going to be resolved by negotiation or mediation, but that I would have to take my claim to court, it became clear to me that the preparation for the court case would force to me to open these old wounds and to examine them again.

During this period I met Terry Gilliam at a dinner and asked him what happened between the Pythons and me in 1975, when we went our separate ways. Terry said, “We were naïve.” What I took this to mean was that this was their first real film (as it was mine) and that they didn’t understand that if a producer delivers the goods – ie a successful film – that the arguments and dissensions that take place during production can often be creative, or at least may spur everyone on to do their utmost. They aren’t good reasons for ditching a producer who has helped make as successful a film as the Holy Grail. This was the naïve act of people who were not film business savvy.

Looking at the documentation disclosed for the trial, and hearing Terry’s opinion, I realised that there was no need to blame myself. It was my first big film, and I undoubtedly made a number of mistakes out of inexperience and innocence. I didn’t handle the problems that arose as well as I did later or would do now. But in their eyes – as artists and performers- this was enough to force a break.

Winning the case has been a great relief, but perhaps the most important outcome of the trial is that I now view the past in a different way. I don’t blame myself, and I’m pleased that the trial gave me the chance to clean out those old wounds and allow them to finally heal.

July 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

Monty Python Trial Costs -New York Times

Dave Itzkoff of the The New York Times wrote about my trial on Friday the 5th July. He said I was British. I could be British but I didn’t want to spend £ 700 on a UK passport, so I get by on my American one. He obviously never visited my web site or did any fact-checking.

There were three comments to the article, and I liked this one.

With a little grudge, with a little grudge
Open your purse ‘cause you’ve been defeated
With a little nudge from the trial judge
You’re worth’s slightly worse but not depleted

Sorry if it’s dumb to say
You’ve done all right in your lives
Really, is the sum you’ll pay
Worth such a fight in your lives

And though you feel rotten that he has won
Still I say don’t appeal, say that the deal is done
Is it just a grudge, just a little grudge
Hope the little nudge from the judge
Helps erase the grudge

With a little grudge, with a little grudge
Open your purse ‘cause you’ve been defeated
With a little nudge from the trial judge
You’re worth’s slightly worse but not depleted

Sorry if it’s dumb to say
You’ve done all right in your lives
Really, is the sum you’ll pay
Worth such a fight in your lives

And though you feel rotten that he has won
Still I say don’t appeal, say that the deal is done
Is it just a grudge, just a little grudge
Hope the little nudge from the judge
Helps erase the grudge

The point that the writer was making is that the amount I sued for is about
£ 225,000 and there are six Pythons (5 alive and one estate) . So each of the Pythons would have had to pay £ 37,500 each. It’s hard to believe thay didn’t want to do this and instead will have to pay legal bills of maybe £ 800,000 on top of the £ 225,000 plus interest that I am owed. Badly advised, or what?

July 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm 2 comments

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