Ben Stein Sues: Ad Agency Replaced Me Over My Global-Warming Position
Ben Stein claims he's a victim of political discrimination.
The conservative pundit and actor -- and former Nixon speechwriter -- alleges that his position on climate change had him kicked off a $300,000 acting gig, only to be replaced by a lookalike.
Stein filed a discrimination suit against Japanese company Kyocera Corporation and New York ad agency Seiter & Miller Advertising, in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday.
He is claiming breach of contract, wrongful discharge and emotional distress, among other charges.
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In the suit, which was obtained by TheWrap, Stein says Kyocera reneged on the deal and replaced him after the company found out that he isn't sure humans are responsible for climate change.
The deal would have had Stein -- who has previously been featured in advertisements for Comcast, Clear Eyes and Hewlett-Packard -- acting in commercials for Kyocera and appearing at a company event.
(Read the whole filing here.)
Stein says that in December 2010 Kyocera and Seiter & Miller's Grace Jao approached his agent, Innovative Artists' Marcia Hurwitz, saying the company "wanted someone with an economics qualification in the public mind, and [Stein] came to mind at once," according to the complaint. "Hurwitz asked [Jao] if this was an offer. Jao said it was."
Over the course of five weeks, an agreement was worked out, with all the material deal points in place.
"The only points still under discussion -- but not in dispute -- were what kind of tea and other snacks [Stein] would have on the set," the suit claims. "There were no outstanding deal points."
In February, Jao called Hurwitz and said "questions had been raised by defendant Kyocera about whether [Stein's] views on global warming and on the environment were sufficiently conventional and politically correct for Kyocera," according to the suit.
Stein then told Kyocera and Seiter & Miller that he was extremely concerned about the environment but unsure whether humans are responsible for global warming.
"He also told Hurwitz to inform defendants that, as a matter of religious belief, he believed that God, and not man, controlled the weather," the suit claims.
That same month, Seiter & Miller President Livingston Miller emailed Hurwitz, telling her the agency had decided to withdraw its offer.
Miller said decision was made due to Stein's "official positions on various policy issues that appear on the web of which we have only lately become aware," according to the suit.
Kyocera then tapped a University of Maryland economics professor to appear in the commercials as a Stein look-alike.
"In an astonishingly brazen misappropriation of [Stein's] persona, [they] dressed him up as Stein often appeared in commercials (bow tie, glasses, sports jacket)."
The suit claims that Stein has been described as "the most famous economics teacher in the world" for his iconic role in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
Stein is seeing $300,000 for the work he agreed to do, along with attorney fees, court costs and punitive damages.
A representative for Seiter & Miller did not respond to TheWrap's request for comment.
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