Bloomberg News

Ben Stein Suit Says Kyocera Unit Canceled Ads Over Climate Views

January 12, 2012

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Actor Ben Stein sued a U.S. unit of Kyocera Corp., alleging a $300,000 agreement for him to appear in printer commercials and to give a speech at a company event was withdrawn because of his views on global warming.

Stein, a movie actor, television personality and economist known for his role in the 1986 hit movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” said in a complaint filed yesterday in state court in Los Angeles that Kyocera Mita America Inc. backed out of a contract because of what the company called his “official position on various policy issues” and statements “widely attributed to him.”

After he had agreed to do the commercials, and the only remaining issues to be resolved were what kind of tea and snacks he would have on the set, Kyocera raised concerns in February 2011 about whether his views on global warming and the environment were “sufficiently conventional and politically correct,” according to the complaint.

Stein said he told Kyocera “he was by no means certain that global warming was man-made” and “As a matter of religious belief, he believed that God, and not man, controlled the weather.”

Keiko Mochizuki, a spokeswoman for Kyocera in Kyoto, had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

The Kyoto, Japan-based parent company, which makes electronic equipment and components, said in November it had received Japan’s 2011 Minister of the Environment award for the promotion of measures to cope with global warming, the second straight year it won such recognition.

‘Astonishingly Brazen’

After Kyocera “fired” him, the company made the commercials with a University of Maryland economist who was dressed up as Stein, with bow tie, glasses and sport coat, in an “astonishingly brazen misappropriation of Ben Stein’s persona,” according to the complaint.

Stein accuses the Kyocera unit of breach of contract, wrongful discharge and infliction of emotional distress, among other allegations, and he seeks $300,000 as well as unspecified punitive damages.

Stein, 67, is an actor, writer, lawyer and “commentator on political and economic issues,” according to his Facebook page. He worked as a speech writer for U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford before becoming an actor, comedian and Emmy Award-winning game show host, according to the page.

The case is Stein v. Kyocera Mita America, BC476821, Superior Court of California (Los Angeles County).

--With assistance from Takashi Amano, Terje Langeland and Naoko Fujimura in Tokyo. Editors: Peter Blumberg, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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