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Stanford U. on Boston Legal | Oil Watchdog

Stanford U. on Boston Legal

Thu, Sep 27, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Stanford U. on Boston Legal

    San Jose Mercury News (California)
    September 27, 2007

    by Julie Sevrens Lyons, Mercury News

    Stanford University on Boston Legal

    Hollywood hasn’t been too kind to Stanford University this year.

    First, Los Angeles producer Steve Bing took the school to task
    for its partnership with oil giant ExxonMobil — and rescinded a
    promise to give his alma mater $2.5 million.

    This week, it was the Emmy award-winning drama "Boston Legal"
    that took a shot, telling the thinly veiled tale of Stanford suing a
    character who withdrew a $3 million pledge. The character broke off
    financial ties with the school after learning that ExxonMobil donated
    $100 million to Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project.

    In real life, that relationship exists and the university has
    been criticized for allowing the oil company to use the school’s name
    and logo in newspaper and television spots.

    "I don’t know what the people at Stanford would be thinking
    about it, but I think it’s wonderful that one of the premiere vehicles
    of popular culture clearly understands the serious issues at stake when
    you’re talking about corporate financing of universities," said John M.
    Simpson, consumer advocate for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
    Rights in Santa Monica.

    Iowa State, UC Davis, UC Berkeley and Texas A&M have all accepted millions from oil producers such as BP and Chevron.

    Stanford officials had no comment about the TV episode — the show’s season premiere — which aired Tuesday night.

    But Bing’s camp, for its part, was "pleasantly surprised" to see the issue raised during prime time.

    "Certainly, Stanford’s deal with ExxonMobil was damned in the
    court of public opinion on Tuesday night," said Yusef Robb, who works
    closely with Bing on environmental issues.

    "Unfortunately," he quipped, "Stanford and ExxonMobil weren’t on ‘Divorce Court’ — ending their relationship."
    Contact Julie Sevrens Lyons at jlyons@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5989.

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