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Pythons, Pythons Everywhere

Move over Woodstock and Neil Armstrong, it’s time to celebrate something completely different: the 40th anniversary of Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ debut on the BBC.

IFC’s been gearing up for a while, gathering the five surviving members of the super-smart British comedy troupe for a six-hour documentary that starts Oct. 18: Monty Python: Almost The Truth (Lawyer’s Cut). (See review, page 10).

The Rainbow Media outlet upped the ante last week, saying it’s bought the rights to air 45 episodes of the original series, which first aired in the States in 1975. Thus IFC’s further inflating the Python-athon beyond the doc and Python movies such as Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the one about the Holy Grail that begat Broadway’s Spamalot.

Deal terms weren’t released. But some TV folks are less surprised now that the Pythons, who don’t always get along so well, came together for the doc.

IFC and BAFTA are also bringing them to New York to receive a BAFTA award after a screening on Thursday, an event The Wire already chronicled.

But wait, there’s more:

  • Wednesday night, BAFTA East Coast hosts a panel discussion in Manhattan on “40 years of British contributions to American pop culture (nudge nudge, wink wink),” with Rainbow CEO Joshua Sapan, BBC Worldwide Americas president Garth Ancier and BAFTA chairman David Parfitt.
  • Fawlty Towers, Python John Cleese’s second-most famous TV show, is out on DVD in remastered form on Oct. 20. Which is very good news for Cleese, whose $20 million divorce settlement prompted him to do a one-man show, the How to Finance Your Divorce Tour. In it, he describes his former wife as “the special love child of Bernie Madoff and Heather Mills.”
  • Python Eric Idle, the creator of Spamalot, co-directed a re-enactment of Python sketches, titled An Evening Without Monty Python, at New York’s Town Hall last week.
  • Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy), Idle’s adaptation of Life of Brian (and a spoof of Handel’s oratorio Messiah), will be performed in London’s Royal Albert Hall on Oct. 23.

The Wire’s beginning to wonder if this isn’t a case of beating a dead parrot. Beautiful plumage, though.

Spreading the Word About H1N1 Virus

Kids are back in school, it’s influenza season, and the vaccine for the H1N1/2009 strain — declared by the World Health Organization a global pandemic due to the spread of the disease by June — is becoming available.

Cable companies, among others, have been gearing up education efforts about the H1N1 flu. Last week, board members of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association (with 75 member companies and 1,631 HR professionals) discussed the issue. CTHRA told The Wire some of the takeaways:

  • Companies are emphasizing common sense. For example, all are encouraging employees with flu-like symptoms to stay home.
  • Several companies are offering the regular flu shot and a few plan to make the H1N1 vaccine available at work if they can secure it (the extent of the availability remains a question mark for these human-resource managers). Some are paying for the cost of the vaccines, whereas others share the cost with employees.
  • None of the companies have issued masks to field employees for use in homes.

Discovery Channel is reinforcing the common-sense message, working with the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to help inform the public about ways to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus.

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, hosts of popular science-explanation series Mythbusters, star in a public-service announcement on the network that uses a high-speed camera to show the invisible aftermath of a sneeze and counsels viewers to stay home if they feel sick. It airs on Discovery Channel from Monday (Oct. 12) through Nov. 8, including primetime airings during the show.

“A big myth about the annual flu vaccination and even the H1N1 vaccinations, soon to be available, is that they alone can make people sick,” HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a release. “The flu cannot be caught from a flu shot; however, if people choose not to get vaccinated, they run the risk of becoming sick or making those around them sick.”

A Web site,, features “Top Five Myths About H1N1” from Discovery Communications-owned