John Cleese will have to amend one of his most famous catchphrases – his classic line from the sitcom Fawlty Towers: “Don’t mention the war!” In one of the most legally tricky film projects of next year the comedian will appear alongside stars of Baywatch but – due to rights issues – is barred from uttering the name of the iconic Nineties television show. Don’t mention the Baywatch.
Cleese, who is taking part in a long sell-out run of the live show Monty Python Live (mostly) at London’s O2 arena, is back in big demand. His part in the film The B-Team – in which David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson are expected to appear – is as a classic British villain, living in on a yacht in the Mediterranean. The film, which was originated by former Baywatch stars Alexandra Paul and Jaason Simmons, is being shot by British director Chris Cottam.
Baywatch ran for 11 seasons between 1989 and 2001 and made global stars of the cast. The idea behind the film came from the many international film events the actors attended in the company of foreign dignitaries at the end of the Cold War period. They could have – the script suggests – been working undercover for the CIA.
The problem is that – although the famous red swimsuits do feature – without the production rights to Baywatch, any mention of the famous series must be censored by an explosion or the knocking over of an expensive vase.