by Hans ten Cate
Friday, 26 February 1999

This is the first volume of "Llama Droppings" - short bits of news that just couldn't wait. They've been lovingly crapped into HTML and frosted with glucose for your reading pleasure. If you have any interesting Python news items of your own and would like to share them with other fans via the Daily Llama, please write us. If you're interested in keeping up with the year's events, be sure and also visit the 1999 Pythonology, right here at the Daily Llama!


Just when Michael Palin had promised himself "no more travel series" after his long and arduous travel documentary "Full Circle," he's off again. This time he is following the footsteps of one of his favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway. Michael is writing and presenting a three-part PBS documentary called "Hemingway's Travels" which will air sometime this year in honor of the centenial of Hemingway's birth.

The program was largely inspired by Palin's extensive reading on the subject for his best-selling novel "Hemingway's Chair" (publised in 1995). Award-winning cameraman Nigel Meakin and reknown photographer Basil Pao are travelling with Michael as well (they worked on Palin's previous travel documentaries such as Around the World in Eighty Days and Pole to Pole).

Hemingway is noted for his many novels which were as rich in location as they were in plot and character. This, presumably due to Hemingway's many travels and journeys to foreign lands. Michael Palin and crew began filming in Cuba (where Hemingway wrote "For Whom the Bell Tolls") and travelled from there to points in Michigan and Illinois last October. This January, the team started filming again and will cover other famous Hemingway stomping grounds, including Uganda, France, Spain, Italy, Idaho, Montana and the Florida Keys.


Word is that the eagerly-awaited DVD release of "Monty Python & The Holy Grail" has been postponed, and no new release date has been announced. Hopefully this title will show back up on the release list soon! Terry Gilliam's Adventures of Baron Munchausen has also apparently been delayed.


Jim Yoakum, a friend of and sometime co-writer with the now-deceased Graham Chapman announced on February 26 the opening of an official Graham Chapman Archives website. Jim was appointed official Director of the Graham Chapman Archives a few years ago by Gray's longtime companion, David Sherlock. The Archives mission is to collect, archive, and preserve Graham's work. The site will be presumably be a showcase of some of this material. The site is up now and will continue to expand in time. The address is http://www.gcarchives.freeservers.com.

Don't forget Jim Yoakum's other sites. There's his site devoted to the book Graham Crackers, the collection of stories and tales by Graham Chapman, and White Bike Productions (which is Jim Yoakum's company). If you've visited his website recently, you would know that Jim will be publishing his long-awaited Monty Python biography The Monty Python (Non-Inflatable) TV Companion sometime this summer. Links to these sites can also be found in the Daily Llama's Links Gallery.


Watch for the new Steve Martin/Goldie Hawn remake of The Out of Towners. It will be in U.S. theaters March 26 and will feature John Cleese as a cross-dressing eccentric Basil Fawltyesque hotel manager. The film is a remake of the 1970 film which starred Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. Both films tell the story of George and Gwen Kellerman (Martin and Hawn) who try to get to New York City but run into a constant series of comical misfortunes and troubles.

From the trailers, Cleese's role promises to be one of the highlights of the film. The last time we saw Cleese pirouette in lady's clothes was in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. It looks as though he has not lost the touch.

John Cleese will also be appearing in Universal Picture's September release of Isn't She Great, a film about author Jacqueline Susann. Cleese will play the role of Henry Marcus, the Simon & Schuster publisher.


Kim "Howard" Johnson's eagerly anticipated new book The First 280 Years of Monty Python has been delayed by the publishers. Apparently, there has been delay over photo permissions, not an uncommon issue for publishing new books. The book had been scheduled for release in November which was later postponed to mid-February.

Howard and his team do not yet know what the new release date will be but have promised to let folks know as soon as there is news. Don't forget, Howard has his own website: The Pantomime Goose.


John Cleese began his official professorship at Cornell University February 4. During his three-day visit, Cleese addressed students at a number of public and academic events. Friday, February 5th, Cleese was on hand to answer questions from an audience who saw a screening of "Monty Python's Parrot Sketch Not Included" (a collection of the best Monty Python sketches).

The next day, Cleese delivered a lecture on the mechanics of humor to accompany his award-winning film, "A Fish Called Wanda," in Bailey Hall. ``I would be delighted to answer anything, provided that you call me, 'Professor Cleese,''' he said to a crowd of about 1,200 students. This was John's first speaking gig as a honorary A.D. White professor-at-large at Cornell. It was reported in Entertainment Weekly and the Daily Llama recently that John Cleese had taken a professorship at the university.

Cleese also gave a more academic talk, titled "Hare-Brain-Tortoise Mind," to graduate and undergraduate students majoring in business and psychology. In addition, Cleese was to give a master's class for acting majors in the Department of Theatre, Film and Dance, and was also going to meet with film majors for a discussion of process and group dynamics, based on "A Fish Called Wanda."

He is expected to lecture in Ithaca once a year for the next six years. His tenure ends June 30, 2004. ``I think I would rather be a professor than an earl or a duke,'' he joked at the public lecture. ``I have only one criticism, other than the coffee... I think that we should move this campus about 800 miles south.''


Last year, Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" was one of the top ten tunes performed at burials and cremations in Britain. The Independent reported on Tuesday February 16 tha,t in 1998, it placed ninth behind songs such as "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan and "Stairway to Heaven" by rockers Led Zeppelin.

Sadly, in 1999 the theme tune from Pythons' Life of Brian was dropped from the top ten. Figures released February 15 by the Co-Operative Funeral Service revealed that Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On", from the film Titanic, is the most popular song played at funerals in Britain. In second place is "Candle in the Wind", by Elton John, last year's number one.

In case you were wondering, the 1999 top 10 are: 1, "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion; 2, "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John; 3, "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler; 4, "Search For The Hero" by M-People; 5, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra; 6, "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Gerry and The Pacemakers; 7, "Release Me" by Engelbert Humperdinck; 8, "Memory" by Elaine Paige; 9, "Strangers In the Night" by Frank Sinatra; 10, "Bright Eyes" by Art Garfunkel.