John Cleese says `Meaning of Life’ DVD is as close a Python reunion as will happen

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Don’t expect to see a reunion of the surviving Monty Python comedians any time soon. It’s not that they hate each other, said one member of the troupe, John Cleese. It’s just that they’ve all become too busy with other projects to work together. “It is absolutely impossible to get even a majority of us together in a room, and I’m not joking,” Cleese said. “It just happens very, very seldom _ every three years or something.” The closest they have come since 1999, when they celebrated the comedy group’s 30th anniversary on a BBC reunion special, is working together on new sketches for the extra features on the recent DVD release of their 1983 film, “The Meaning of Life.” And even that was done remotely, for the most part. Cleese, who lives in Santa Barbara, said Michael Palin, who has worked on several acclaimed travel documentaries, was in the Himalayas; American Terry Gilliam, the group’s animator and director of “The Fisher King,” was in Prague; Terry Jones was “God-knows-where” developing a British history documentary; and Eric Idle was in Canada awaiting the start of a movie that eventually fell through. Graham Chapman died in 1989. “We stay in contact vaguely because there are often little things to discuss, but I don’t think we’ve been in a room together for four years,” Cleese said. Sometimes their failure to get together has resulted in hard feelings. “We had all sort of thoughts about doing a final stage tour,” Cleese said. “And then Michael, who is painfully nice, who finds it impossible to say `No,’ finally summoned up the courage to say `No,’ at which point Eric became very cross about it.” “The Meaning of Life” DVD came out Sept. 2, and Cleese said he will watch it for the first time in many years _ eventually. “Sometimes I think people think in our old age we sit around watching our work, and we really don’t,” the 63-year-old said. “I’m looking forward to, in the last week before I die _ as I lie there in my bed, surrounded by my adoring family, all of them holding out checks for me to sign _ I shall in those twilight hours start watching all my old programs again,” he said, laughing.

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