Early last year Brooklyn-based PR firm MCSquared engaged Sharon Stone to appear in Ecuador to assist the country in publicising damage done to the Amazon basin by Texaco (now Chevron), the US energy business. The agency had the brief from the Ecuador government to bring awareness to the environmental damage caused by Texaco, with the intention of swaying US public opinion in a legal and political battle with the oil giant.

Stone was allegedly contracted (through her agency, APB) to spend three days in the country, meeting with the President and Vice President, and visiting indigenous communities and contaminated areas. MCSquared claims it was advised two hours before her expected arrival that Stone was pulling a no-show. The Basic Instinct star was actually in hospital in Sao Paulo.

The PR firm has just commenced proceedings in the US against Stone and her agency, seeking the recovery of her appearance fee which the firm had paid ($US275,000), plus about $US80,000 incurred by them in meeting Shaz’s ‘diva like’ requests including first class air fares and luxury hotel suites for herself and her three ‘companions’.

The court hasn’t yet handed down its decision, but in the meantime what can we learn? Our tips for engaging a celebrity to spruik your cause:

  1. Get your celebrity to sign a contract. ‘Derr’ we hear you say, but MCSquared paid Stone the cash before the contract was signed, and she never got around to signing it. It is much harder to prove the terms of your agreement without a signed contract.
  2. Don’t pay all the cash upfront. You’ll probably need to pay something as a deposit to secure her appearance, but you need to keep as much as possible back to ensure your celebrity’s performance.
  3. Agree on who is responsible for ‘incidentals’. Stone’s diva demands quickly ran up to $80k worth, which the agency incurred without clear agreement on who was paying for them.