Fired NYU Film Professor Says the School "Bent Over" for James Franco

Fired NYU Film Professor Says the School "Bent Over" for James Franco
(Foto de Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

How can the ever-omnipresent James Franco handle a multitude of projects while excelling in numerous postgraduate degree programs? ARTINFO has an answer: he can’t. An NYU professor has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was fired after giving Franco a "D" for playing hooky while pursuing his Master of Fine Arts.

José Angel Santana, 58, told the New York Post that Franco had missed 12 of 14 of his "Directing the Actor II" classes at NYU. The professor filed a lawsuit against NYU with Manhattan Supreme Court to get his job back, alleging Franco's attendance in other classes was just as bad, but that the professors gave him good grades to further their own careers and their rapport with the actor. 

"The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that’s for sure," Santana, 58, said. "The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco."

Several conflicts of interest occurred during Franco’s presence at NYU, according to the New York Post. The actor hired his former professor Jay Anania (who gave Franco a good mark) to write and direct "William Vincent," a film Franco starred in that was featured in the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. Court records say John Tintori, NYU’s graduate film department chairman, also appeared in a cameo role in a movie financed by Franco and written and directed by Anania.  Franco returned to campus this past fall to teach a course on adapting poetry into short films. 

"In my opinion, they’ve turned the NYU graduate film degree into swag for James Franco’s purposes, a possession, something you can buy," Santana told the New York Post. Celebrity students often raise the profile of higher learning institutions, translating into money for the schools.

Franco, meanwhile, blamed Santana for having a problem with having a celebrity in his class, retorting to last year, "I did the work."

Over the past few months, Franco has had an exhibition at Terence Koh’s Asia Song Society and a piece in Performa 11 with artist Laurel Nakadate. He also narrated the just-released "Eames: The Architect and the Painter" — all while getting a PhD at Yale and shooting the "Wizard of Oz" prequel in Detroit. When ARTINFO questioned him about how he does it all back in August, the actor answered, "I work with good people." Could some of these "good people" he referred to be the NYU professors who gave him good grades despite his slacker attendance?