John Cleese challenges Eric Idle on Monty Python's finances

Wednesday 14th February 2024, 9:56am by Jay Richardson

Image shows left to right: Eric Idle, John Cleese. Credit: Ludwig Shammasian

John Cleese has responded to Eric Idle in the growing row over Monty Python's earnings, coming out in support of Terry Gilliam's daughter.

On Saturday Idle criticised Holly Gilliam, who manages Python's business affairs, suggesting that she wasn't maximising revenue from their back catalogue.

"We own everything we ever made in Python and I never dreamed that at this age the income streams would tail off so disastrously" he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. "But I guess if you put a Gilliam child in as your manager you should not be so surprised. One Gilliam is bad enough. Two can take out any company."

But now Cleese has challenged his former colleague, posting on the same platform: "I have worked with Holly for the last ten years, and I find her very efficient, clear-minded, hard-working, and pleasant to have dealings with."

He added: "Michael Palin has asked me to make it clear that he shares this opinion", as well as "Terry Gilliam is also in agreement with this."

Holly Gilliam, a media lawyer, took over the Monty Python brand in 2014 and co-produced that year's reunion show, Monty Python Live (Mostly) - One Down, Five to Go, which sold out the O2 Arena in London for ten nights.

Monty Python Live (Mostly). Image shows left to right: John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle

Idle also complained that streaming services do not pay enough in royalties, posting: "I don't know why people always assume we're loaded. Python is a disaster. Spamalot made money 20 years ago. I have to work for my living. Not easy at this age.

"I think the serious problem are the Spotifies and the Utubes. Copyright ain't worth jack shit any more."

One fan suggested another lucrative comeback, but Idle said: "I'm doing no more Python. I gave already. Ungrateful bastards."

And when another suggested a Netflix retrospective documentary he said: "Fuck Netflix and fuck documentaries."

Idle also revealed that he hadn't seen Cleese for seven years, prompting one fan to reply: "That makes me sad". To which Idle responded: "Why. It makes me happy."

"I still love and am proud of what we did as Python," he added. "It was a very unique group. I think of us as an ex Liverpool team. We played together well. Way back in the day. But it was never very supportive of people's feelings and emotions. Not Brothers. Colleagues."

Idle's daughter Lily supported her father on the issue of Python's finances, writing on X: "I'm so proud of my dad for finally starting to share the truth. He has always stood up to bullies and narcissists and absolutely deserves reassurance and validation for doing so."

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