The La Jolla Playhouse is a small nonprofit regional theater attached to the University of California at San Diego. It prides itself on artistic merit, and has served as the launching pad for many hit Broadway shows like The Who’s Tommy, Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife and Jersey Boys.
Which makes it that much more bizarre that the theater can now add this item to its have-done list: sued by a lube company.
So how did they go from Tony Awards to slippery lawsuit?
Wet Personal Lubricant founder Michael Trigg contributed $100,000 to the for-profit web-based purveyor of charity auctions, Charitybuzz.com, in exchange for “A few lines (speaking part) in a major motion picture or popular television show.” The horror parody film Scary Movie 5 was selected, and the experience was to include a private 20-minute meeting with Harvey Weinstein, co-CEO of The Weinstein Company.
Trigg filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment, among other claims, naming as defendants Charitybuzz, The Weinstein Company (Charitybuzz’s partner in the transaction) and the La Jolla Playhouse (the non-profit organization designated as the beneficiary of the net-proceeds of the donation).
As Trigg tells the story, his “few lines” speaking part was marginalized to two words (“Hey, detective”) and a nod.
He said in a press release:
“The entire fiasco reminds me of the Peanut’s [sic] cartoon in which Lucy promises to hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick but pulls it away at the last second—causing Charlie Brown to land on his behind. In real life we call that ‘bait and switch,’ which isn’t funny—it’s just plain unethical.”
For their part, the La Jolla Playhouse has taken the stance that it basically isn’t their problem, and shouldn’t have to return any money.
We tend to agree.
Maybe if he’d played his cards right Trigg could have instead greased enough hands to see Lubed Up: The Musical! become a reality.