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Van Damme Sued by Total Flex Marketers

(CN) - After agreeing to shoot an informercial for the Total Flex workout machine, action star Jean Claude Van Damme showed up late to the set with his reality television crew, refused to read his lines and mocked the Total Flex for his reality show, promoters of Total Flex claim in Los Angeles Superior Court.

"This case is an example of a Hollywood celebrity who believes he can do whatever he wants regardless of the promises he has made, without having to take responsibility for his actions or suffer any consequences," according to Thane International, the Delaware-based marketing company behind the Total Flex.

Van Damme's agent-attorney, Sam Perlmutterm, had negotiated with Thane CEO Amir Tukulj to have the 50-year-old "Timecop" star promote the Total Flex in an informercial, the 21-page complaint states.

Thane says it sent a Total Flex to Van Damme in October 2010, and Perlmutter told the company that both Van Damme and his wife had used and "loved" the machine.

Van Damme backed out of an earlier shoot in Vancouver to tape the infomercial but rescheduled for Brussels, where he was born, for February 2011.

Thane says it spent more than $25,200 to "fly a crew to Brussels in vain for a shoot that, unbeknownst to Thane, was never to occur."

"In furtherance of defendants' wrongful acts, defendant Van Damme (i) showed up at the shoot and admitted he had not used the Total Flex despite the fact that Thane had sent it to him months before, (ii) refused to read his lines (which Thane had sent to his representatives days before), (iii) refused to reasonably cooperate in providing the services he was contractually obligated to provide, and (iv) ultimately disparaged the Total Flex on camera for the benefit of his reality television show audience," according to the complaint (parentheses in original).

Thane says Van Damme was also about 90 minutes late to the shoot, then "appeared erratic and chaotic ... and to be very irritable." After first telling the crew that he uses the Total Flex and likes it, Van Damme could not operate the machine and then claimed he had been too busy to try it, the complaint states.

"Then, with the lights on and his reality show camera rolling, defendant Van Damme suddenly turned to the camera and gave an impassioned speech about how he cannot let 'his people' down by endorsing a product he thinks is no good," according to the complaint. "Despite the fact that defendants Van Damme and Perlmutter told Thane that both Van Damme and his wife loved the machine, and despite Van Damme's confirmation of this fact on camera, Van Damme suddenly did an about face and disparaged the product to his reality TV audience."

At the time, Van Damme had been filming "Behind Closed Doors," a reality show that airs in Europe, Thane says.

"The only usable footage shot that day was for Van Damme's reality show in which he mugged for the camera and falsely portrayed himself as a 'white knight' for refusing to endorse a purportedly inferior product - a product which, in actuality, Van Damme had admittedly never used," according to the complaint. "Van Damme then slipped out of the informercial shoot under false pretenses (allegedly to get a cup of coffee and read the product's user guide) in order to render his services for an unrelated charity photo shoot."

Thane and its Ontario-based subsidiary, Thane Direct Marketing, sued the action star; Perlmutter; "Damage 7," a movie that they own; Van Damme's apparent Belgium-based company and alter ego, Four-One Enterprises; and Perlmutter's business, Benjamin H. Inc.

They seek reimbursement of the costs of the shoot and punitive damages for breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation. Thane is represented by Grant Carlson with Friedman, Enriquez & Carlson.

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