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Taking Names: Monty Python sued over royalties from ‘Spamalot’

It's no joking matter.

A producer of the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is suing the British comedy troupe over royalties from the hit stage musical "Spamalot."

Producer Mark Forstater wants a bigger share of proceeds from the show, which is based on the Pythons' 1975 movie spoof of the legend of King Arthur.

Lawyers for Monty Python are contesting Mr. Forstater's claim and will present their arguments later. Python members Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones will give evidence during a five-day hearing that began Friday at London's High Court.

Mr. Forstater is suing the trio and the two other surviving Python members, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam. The sixth member of the troupe, Graham Chapman, died in 1989.

Mr. Forstater's lawyer, Tom Weisselberg, said that under an agreement made when the film was produced, "for financial purposes Mr. Forstater was to be treated as the seventh Python" and entitled to the same share of "Holy Grail" merchandising and spin-off income as the other members.

But the lawyer said Mr. Forstater had not received his fair share of royalties from the stage show, which has been a hit around the world. It ran on Broadway for almost four years until 2009 and is still playing in London's West End.

Mr. Weisselberg said Mr. Forstater, who was declared bankrupt earlier this year, had been forced to go to court because of his "difficult financial circumstances."

Attorneys: Halle Berry, ex-boyfriend settle dispute

Attorneys for Halle Berry and her ex-boyfriend have settled court issues that arose after a Thanksgiving Day fight at the actress's home.

The fisticuffs involved Miss Berry's ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry and her fiance, actor Olivier Martinez. Mr. Aubry was arrested after the fight, which left him with a black eye, a broken rib and other injuries.

Mr. Aubry obtained a temporary restraining order against Mr. Martinez. The model and Miss Berry have been battling over custody of their 4-year-old daughter for months and have appeared twice in a family law court since the fight.

Blair Berk, an attorney for Miss Berry, and Shawn Holley, who represents Mr. Aubry, released a statement after Thursday's hearing that said the two sides had reached an amicable agreement.

No details were released, and the attorneys declined to answer questions.

Rapper Swizz Beatz to focus on singles, not albums

Producer-rapper Swizz Beatz said he wants to release a series of singles — or "memorable moments" — instead of a follow-up album to 2007's "One Man Band Man." With the growing trend of top pop acts selling millions of singles, but falling flat in album sales, he said releasing songs is the best route for him as a known artist.

"I think that it's a better lane for me," said the rapper who also produced hits for Jay-Z, T.I., Beyonce and Drake. "I'm able to give the fans something to focus on that's consistent instead of promoting this, promoting that."

His current single, the high-energy party anthem "Everyday Birthday," features Chris Brown and Ludacris. They performed it at the American Music Awards in November and so far the song has peaked at No. 44 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart.

Though Mr. Beatz is focusing on singles, fans shouldn't worry; he said he has an entire album finished.

"I just don't feel that the people want an album from me that bad, yet. But when they do, I can definitely put something together," he said.

Mr. Beatz is still in the studio creating music for others. He said he's working with Beyonce, Drake and Rick Ross, and soon will reunite with Nas and Jay-Z. He's also a producer on wife Alicia Keys' new album, "Girl on Fire," out last week.

Miss Keys, who mostly has been mum about their marriage, recently gushed to the press that her husband and their 2-year-old son, Egypt, bring balance to her life.

"It's a surprise because she's so private about everything," he said. "It's great to see her open up a little bit and share some of that."

Adkins: Confederate flag earpiece not meant to offend

Trace Adkins wore an earpiece decorated like the Confederate flag when he performed for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting, but has said he meant no offense by it.

Mr. Adkins appeared with the earpiece on a nationally televised special for the lighting on Wednesday. Some regard the flag as a racist symbol and criticized Mr. Adkins in Twitter postings.

But in a statement released Thursday, the Louisiana native called himself a proud American who objects to any oppression and said the flag represents his Southern heritage.

He noted that he's a descendant of Confederate soldiers and said he did not intend offense by wearing it.

Mr. Adkins — on a USO tour in Japan — also called for the preservation of America's battlefields and an "honest conversation about the country's history."

Lucas plans to help build second statue of Yoda

"Star Wars" fans soon may have another Yoda statue in the San Francisco Bay area to visit.

Filmmaker George Lucas said he plans to help build a small park in Marin County that would include bronze statues of the popular "Star Wars" character and Indiana Jones.

His estate manager told the Marin Independent Journal the Yoda statue would be similar to one in San Francisco's Presidio neighborhood. That one — a full-size replica of the Jedi sage — rests atop a fountain outside an arts center where Mr. Lucas moved most of his operations in 2005.

It has become a big draw for fans.

Mr. Lucas applied for a permit Wednesday to demolish a building on the site of the planned park in San Anselmo, the town where he lives.

Compiled from Web and wire reports

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