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Ben Stein goes online

The star of Comedy Central’s latest talk show talks with EW about his TV and internet ventures

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Some entertainers would be happy with one job, but not actor/spokesman/writer/lawyer/trivia godhead Ben Stein. When not busy with his Emmy Award-winning hosting duties on Win Ben Stein’s Money or planning a new talk show for Comedy Central, Stein is usually online, shopping, looking up weather reports and stock market news, or visiting his own fan site (www.benstein.com). While taking an offline break, the man forever remembered for nasally calling roll (”Anyone, anyone?”) in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off chatted with EWI about his surfing habits.

Entertainment Weekly: How involved are you with the ”official” Ben Stein site?

Ben Stein: [About two years ago]] two young girls in Dallas asked me if they could set it up…. They did a magnificent job. When I want to do something on my site I just call up, or e-mail, these two young ladies and ask them to add it. There is also a Ben Stein Fan Club site [http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Studio/3874/], and now there is something called Benstein Mail. Someone has set up a Ben Stein e-mail company, where every time you send mail it says at the bottom, ”Anyone, anyone?” I am going to have to call my lawyer about that.

EW: Any other ambitious Web plans?

BS: I have a lot of books, Ben Stein books, by Ben Stein; that’s me…. They are in big boxes in my basement. I bought them; they’re remainders. [So] I am going to set up a little thing on eBay and try to auction them off.

EW: Have you played ”Win Ben Stein’s Cyber Money” on the Comedy Central site?

BS: Many times. I do extremely well, because they are almost all questions that have been on the show. I do unbelievably, mind-blowingly well.

EW: You do a lot of shopping online.

BS: Oh, I am a big cybershopping addict. There are packages waiting for me in the mail almost every day from, well, mostly from Amazon, but also from CDnow and drugstore.com.

EW: Do you find yourself reading newspapers online versus on paper?

BS: No, I never do. I never, never, never, never do. I am old-fashioned, I guess, in that way…. I just like the feel of the newsprint in my little fingers.

EW: How has the Web affected your family life?

BS: Well, I think the Web has pulled our family closer together, in the sense that our son is interested in what I am doing online and I am interested in what he is doing online, so we spend a lot of time sort of looking over each other’s shoulders. Plus my wife is a very, very, very busy lawyer, and some days she just wants to stay home with me and our son, so she does her work on the Web…. I think it has bound us closer together. On the other hand, I do think we probably get a little less exercise, but once we get that bicycle machine with the computer keyboard on the handlebars and the monitor riding right above that, we’ll be all set.

EW: If you had 10 minutes to do whatever you wanted, would you go online or would you do something more traditional, like read a book?

BS: Oh, no, I would go look at something beautiful outdoors, in nature. I think how-ever good the Web is, nature is better.

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