John Medland
Jessica Shaw
July 29, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Apparently, not even a movieabout Richard Nixon can escape scandal, according to Entertainment Weekly. Presidential speechwriter-turned-game-show host Ben Stein claims the idea for Columbia’s ”Dick” (starring Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams) was stolen from him by first-timer Sheryl Longin. ”I was working on a treatment based on two Valley girls working in the White House,” says Stein, for whom Longin did research during college. ”I would question whether (she) could say there’s no connection between her script and the one I was working on.”

Longin, who shares a writing credit with ”Dick” director Andrew Fleming, insists she is not a crook: ”Frankly, I don’t know what Ben is talking about.” Longin says that ”Dick” is loosely based on a childhood incident, when she threw ice cubes at Nixon’s Secret Service men. ”I can’t imagine he’s seen the movie,” she says. ”I mean, it’s really anti-Nixon and he’s a staunch Republican.”

For now, the courts won’t be involved. ”I have no plans to sue her at this point,” says Stein. ”It would have been a different story if she called to say she’s sorry. But sadly, this is just typical Hollywood behavior.” Hollywood, Washington D.C. — what’s the diff?

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