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Ben Stein wants to win some money…in litigation.
Stein, the prolific actor, author, spokesperson, pundit and one-time star of Comedy Central’s game show Win Ben Stein’s Money, has sued a Japanese company and its New York ad agency for $300,000 for allegedly backing out of a deal to hire him to act in commercials when they found out about his beliefs on global warming.
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Stein filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday against Kyocera Mita America, Inc., Seiter & Miller Advertising and their principals.
Stein, a well-known conservative commentator who became famous as the economics professor in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, has appeared in popular commercials for Clear Eyes eye drops and Comcast. He claims that in 2011, Kyocera and Seiter & Miller approached his agent at Innovative Artists about him appearing in commercials for a line of computer printers. A deal was allegedly worked out to pay him $300,000 for the commercials and to appear at a company event. “The only points still under discussion–but not in dispute–were what kind of tea and other snacks Ben Stein would have on the set,” the complaint states. “There were no outstanding deal points.”
But Stein alleges that in Feb. 2011 his agent was called by Seiter employee Grace Jao and told that “questions had been raised by defendant Kyocera about whether Ben Stein’s views on global warming and on the environment were sufficiently conventional and politically correct for Kyocera,” according to the complaint.
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Stein alleges he informed the ad agency and Kyocera that he was deeply concerned about the environment but he was not certain that global warming is a man-made phenomenon. “He also told [his agent] to inform defendants that as a matter of religious belief, he believed that God, and not man, controlled the weather,” the complaint states.
Days later, Kyocera allegedly withdrew its offer and hired an economics professor at the University of Maryland to appear in the commercials and, “in an astonishingly brazen misappropriation of Ben Stein’s persona, dressed him up as Stein often appeared in commercials (bow tie, glasses, sports jacket).”
So Stein is suing, claiming breach of contract, and wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, among other causes of action.
We’ve reached out to Seiter & Miller for comment.
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