As it enters its ninth season, The Big Bang Theory is an aging sitcom. But a recently-fired employee of the show claims in a new lawsuit he was ousted because of his age, despite his years of experience in the industry.
According to a Deadline report, former Second Assistant Director Christopher Klausen claims in a legal filing that he was systematically stripped of his duties until he was fired outright at the end of season 8, in April, 2015.
Klausen had been with the show since its debut in 2007. When he turned 50-years-old in season 6, Klausen was prevented from performing the duties of Second Assistant Director despite retaining the title, according to the suit. The filing claims much younger producers were brought in to do the job, and even members of the cast began to treat him differently.
“As a Second Assistant Director, a major aspect of Mr. Klausen’s job duties involved interacting and working with the actors on a daily basis. This included serving as a liaison to the actors, making sure the actors are prepared for each scene, and putting the actors through wardrobe and makeup. Mr. Klausen noticed that the stars of the show, which are all considerably younger, began to ostracize him after he turned 50.”
Klausen was fired over the phone once season 8 wrapped. His past credits included The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Diff’rent Strokes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Klausen said in his legal filing that when he asked Big Bang Theory producer Faye Oshima Belyeu why his duties had been transferred to the much-younger Nicole Lorre and T. Ryan Brennan, Belyeu said they related to the actors better.
“The only reason that Ms. Lorre and Mr. Brennan ‘relate[d] to the actors better’ are because they are younger than Mr. Klausen.”
Age is a touchy subject in Hollywood. This is not the first time a Hollywood insider has launched an age-related lawsuit. Actor Junie Hoang sued entertainment biography site IMDb in 2011 for revealing her age. She said at the time, “in the entertainment industry, youth is king.” Hoang lost the suit and subsequent appeals, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Deadline reported that a former Disney executive, the once-director of the Story Department, Kevin Brady, sued the studio last year for firing based on age. Brady was let go at age 48 and replaced with someone much younger, despite a 26-year career at the company.
In response to the Big Bang Theory lawsuit, entertainment lawyer Victoria Novak told The Toronto Star she expects the frequency of such legal action to increase.
“As the Baby Boomers get older and the whole population gets older, I think these types of issues and these types of lawsuits are going to get more common.”
Klausen named Warner Bros. Television as the defendant in the suit. It was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on August 17, 2015. You can review the complaint here.
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