Graham Chapman Biopic: Knights, monsters, and cross-dressing lumberjacks lined up near New York's Times Square on Saturday, hoping to win roles in an upcoming movie about the life of Monty Python comedian Graham Chapman.

About 1,000 actors and fans donned costumes to audition for the film "Gin and Tonic," about the life of Chapman, who died of throat cancer in 1989, said writer and director David Eric Brenner.

Brenner described the auditions as "loony."

"We've had lumberjacks, and colonels, men painted with full-red body paint with a dead turkey stapled to their shoulder singing show tunes," Brenner said.

Brenner, 31, grew up in New York and memorized all of Monty Python's material after becoming a fan at age 12, he said.

A cult following has formed around the British comedy group, which made several movies, including "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975), "Life of Brian" (1979) and the television show, "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (1969-1974).

"Gin and Tonic," depicting Chapman's humor, hard-drinking and brief career as a doctor, starts filming later this year in London, Brenner said.

It is scheduled for release in 2005.

At Cambridge, Chapman performed comedy sketches and later formed Monty Python with school friends John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.

The film's audition Web site says that "No Experience is necessary. Just be funny and brush up on your British accent."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.