by Hans ten Cate
special thanks to Harvey Glascow and Jim Yoakum for the valuable inside details
Monday, 13 May 2002

Independent film company Hippofilms is developing a $10 million film based on the life story of Graham Chapman.

The film's working title is Chapman but will most likely be called Gin and Tonic not only because it was Graham's favorite drink, but it was also the title of the unfinished sequel to Chapman's book "A Liar's Autobiography."

The screenplay is being written by director David Eric Brenner and Jim Yoakum, the director of the Graham Chapman Archives and author of several books about Chapman and Monty Python. "We are just finishing draft #1 of the script and will then start preproduction," Jim Yoakum told the Daily Llama.

Several film production companies have already expressed interest in the project and it is rumored that Hippofilms will co-produce the film with another production company in England.

The film will cover Chapman’s early years at Cambridge and medical school, his dilemma about quitting medicine to follow comedy, his struggles with alcohol, the Monty Python years (including behind-the-scenes squabbles), his homosexuality and his exploits with Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr among others. "The script will reveal many previously unknown details about Graham's life," Yoakum said.

"The Graham Chapman Archives has granted access to never-before-seen material, including portions of Chapman’s unpublished memoirs and works," said director David Brenner. "But the access to Chapman’s private diary is still under negotiation. The diary is pretty hot."

"We hope to get David Sherlock to also contribute," said Yoakum. "He is aware of it and fully supports it." No word on whether any of the remaining Pythons will be involved, although Eric Idle is aware of the project.

Hippofilms plans to start principal shooting of the film as early as November 2002. The film
will be shot on location, in London and Cambridge. "We are planning to hold open auditions in London for the roles of the young Pythons," Yoakum revealed. "No one is attached to it yet, actor-wise. Especially not the part of Graham..."

"David is an extremely talented director and we know Graham’s story is in good hands with him," Yoakum said in closing. Brenner recently wrote and directed "Rent Control," starring Melissa Joan Hart.