In America: Clip-clopping knights find treasure on Broadway

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The Independent Online

Canned meat is cheap, but Spamalot isn't. The Monty Python musical opened last week on Broadway amid the din of clip-clopping coconut shells (cheaper than real horses), the applause of giddily approving critics - "Bloody fantastic" was the verdict of the New York Post - and the rustling of cash. Eric Idle, the original Python responsible for the show, drawn from the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and starring Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Frank Azaria, will be happy to hear that within the first two days of opening on Thursday advance ticket sales reached a healthy $2m. It helps that most of the decent seats in the house sell for more than $100, and some for $250. Then there is all the merchandising that goes on in the lobby. For forty bucks, a pair of "killer rabbit" slippers will be yours, assuming that they haven't sold out. (A consignment of 1,000 pairs arrived just in time for the opening night.) A "killer rabbit" puppet is a bit cheaper, of course, as are commemorati

Canned meat is cheap, but Spamalot isn't. The Monty Python musical opened last week on Broadway amid the din of clip-clopping coconut shells (cheaper than real horses), the applause of giddily approving critics - "Bloody fantastic" was the verdict of the New York Post - and the rustling of cash. Eric Idle, the original Python responsible for the show, drawn from the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and starring Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Frank Azaria, will be happy to hear that within the first two days of opening on Thursday advance ticket sales reached a healthy $2m. It helps that most of the decent seats in the house sell for more than $100, and some for $250. Then there is all the merchandising that goes on in the lobby. For forty bucks, a pair of "killer rabbit" slippers will be yours, assuming that they haven't sold out. (A consignment of 1,000 pairs arrived just in time for the opening night.) A "killer rabbit" puppet is a bit cheaper, of course, as are commemorative cans of Spamalot spam. There are T-shirts with Pythonesque slogans, including the top-selling "I'm not dead yet..." and, finally, coconut shells. Lots of coconut shells. The merchandising folk at the Shubert Theatre expect to sell at least 200 pairs of coconuts a week. Fans of Python are apparently as dotty as ever.

* FANS tuning to this Wednesday's episode of ABC's spy drama Alias may be in for a shock. For starters, its principal star, Jennifer Garner, will be mostly absent from the screen, making only a cameo appearance. Much more puzzling for viewers will be this: the hour-long instalment will be entirely in Spanish with subtitles. It makes sense to the producers because the action will take place in Argentina, so why not have the characters speak the local lingo? More surprisingly, it apparently makes sense to the marketing experts at ABC as well, who consider it an opportunity for the network to reach out to the millions of Spanish speakers in America. Alias writers may be getting carried away, however. They say that the final episode of the season may be in Mandarin.

* A COMEDY waiting for its debut this Thursday on NBC does not sound promising. Its characters work for a paper manufacturing company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Yawn. Worse, there will be no canned laughter on this sitcom. Now that is brave. Yet, executives at the network are daring to believe that the show will grow to become a hit as important as Seinfeld once was. Its name is hardly thrilling either: The Office . Yes, America is about to have its own version of the prize-winning British comedy invented by Ricky Gervais. It will star Steve Carell. Recent attempts to translate Coupling and Men Behaving Badly for US audiences flopped embarrassingly. Have they got it right for The Office ? We tremble to imagine.

* TIME WARNER, the film studio, has scant sense of humour when it comes to protecting its most lucrative property of all: the Harry Potter series. Executives recently caught up with the antics of the Texas-based comedian Brad Neely, who since early last year has been travelling the country performing his one-man show, Wizard People, Dear Reader , in which he screens a muted video of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone overlaid with his own satirical soundtrack. As in: "Then Dumbledore leans in. 'Your Dad and I, we go way back ... I loved him so much. He proof-read my novel.' " The New York Times reports that Time Warner has been warning theatres around the country to ditch any plans to show Neely's take on Pottermania - or risk receiving formal cease and desist papers.

* Josiah Johnson of North Dakota thought he was pretty funny when he bought a vanity licence plate for his car that reads TIPSY. The joke will be on him tomorrow, however, when he appears in court on charges of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Johnson, 23, was pulled over last week after leaving a local bar. He may try to argue that the cops singled him out unfairly because of his plates. But leniency is unlikely since he was allegedly three times over the limit. Johnson may be advised to ditch the plates or quit drink and driving. Or both.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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