Hot off the press
16th September 2016
THE EPIC STORY OF A FILM PRODUCER, BRITAIN’S BEST-LOVED COMEDY TROUPE, A CLASSIC COMEDY, AND HOW 40 YEARS ON THEY CLASHED IN A TRAGI COMEDY OF BONE-BREAKING GREED, AND HEART-BREAKING DESPAIR.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a comedy classic. Consistently voted in the top ten of all comedy films, it is the most profitable independent film ever made in the UK and has achieved worldwide box office success. Forty years on it is still screened.
The young man who produced the film was Mark Forstater, an American from Philadelphia who shared an apartment in New York with Terry Gilliam,before coming to England in the mid-Sixties to study at film school. Forstater liked the country so much he decided to stay and has been living and working here ever since.
The 7th Python (A Twat’s Tale) tells the story of the ups and downs in the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It lifts the visor off the sometimes brilliantly creative, sometimes fractious relationships between the Pythons. They were comedy icons but they were also, cue cliché, human with all too human frailties,which Forstater describes sans cliché.
Everything was fine, rosy and profitable until Eric Idle came up with the idea for Spamalot,a stage musical based on the film. Spamalot became a smash hit. As producer of the original film, Forstater was entitled to a percentage of the profits from the film and its spin-offs. But then his share of the royalties was slashed. Did anyone consult the‘twat’? No, though for 30 years and more, Forstater had received his agreed share.
Forstater tried to talk to the Pythons; he wrote to them; he tried to negotiate. But the mighty Python was stubborn as a goat. (Note to editors: mixed metaphors intentional.) So Forstater had to go to law which led to Eric Idle dubbing him a ‘twat’.
Forstater tells of his trials and tribulations before, during and after the trial. For seven long years, he tried to get the Pythons and their management to see reason, and for seven long years, he failed.
The final section of the book offers a lesson for those thinking of going to law. After endless writs, witness statements, witless statements,etc., the Pythons appear in court. The judge says the original agreement could have been drafted better. It ends moderately happily for Forstater – he wins – and very happily for the lawyers in that they all get their fees.
Forstater was sustained in this ordeal by his belief in the Tao. He is the author of The Spiritual Teachings of the Tao (Hodders), The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius (Hodders) and with Rudolf Reder I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp(Psychology News).
A must-read for Python fans and anyone interested in comedy – and human frailty.
Talking Sense About Medicine by Richard Asher with a preface by Jane Asher
Richard Asher should be more famous than he is as he a number of important contributions to psychiatry and wrote amusingly about not just doctors’ dilemmas but doctors’ deceptions – and self deceptions. The history of literature is studded with doctors who wrote well. Chekhov could write a fine scene and wield a scalpel well. William Carlos Williams was one of the great 20th century poets. Freud was praised for his style even by those who thought that psychoanalysis was tosh.
Asher made a name for himself among by his articles in The Lancet which cast an affectionate but sceptical eye on how doctors. Many of the subjects he raised – the tendency of doctors to prescribe too many drugs too easily and the dangers of going to bed, especially in a hospital bed – are of relevant 40 years after he wrote them. So are the Seven Sins of Medicine as well as his advice to young doctors on how to get on.A small classic that we are proud to bring back to life and a book that will interest patients as well as doctors.
We are about to publish
Psychology News continues making films and are finishing one about Ted Hughes childhood and are preparing one based on David Cohen’s book The Escape of Sigmund Freud. The web pilot can be seen here.
We will also publish a book that features an unlikely cast - Coco Chanel, Queen Victoria, P.G Wodehouse, St Augustine and Mrs Thatcher.
A remarkable odyssey into a truly dark death machine
I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp is the harrowing and extraordinary story of the camp at Belzec. Unlike Auschwitz, Belzec is not a name we will all recognise but 600,000 Jews perished there.
One man Rudolf Reder escaped and gave an account of the camp. Mark Forstater has traced it down and it is the centrepiece of his book, a remarkable odyssey into a truly dark death machine. Reder's story is horrifying. His testimony, the horror of what inmates suffered, and how he managed to survive and escape is an important addition to Holocaust literature.
Mark Forstater was born in Philadelphia in 1943. He graduated from Central High School and Temple University. Mark has produced over 30 films since 1974, starting with the classic Monty Python and The Holy Grail. He has also published a series of books on philosophy and spirituality: The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius, The Spiritual Teachings of Seneca, The Spiritual Teachings of Yoga and The Living Wisdom of Socrates. Mark lives in London. He has been married twice, has four daughters and three grandsons.