December 21st, 2011 | Culture

Did Franco GRD ’16 get an NYU professor fired?

James Franco, formerly GRD '16, will not be hosting this weekend's Academy Awards, praise heavens.
James Franco, formerly GRD '16, will not be hosting this weekend's Academy Awards, praise heavens. Photo by Ryan Nees.

Having broken countless Eli hearts, ditched the stark beauty of New England for the oil fields of Texas and left all of us wondering where he’s been for the last five months, James Franco GRD ’16 has created yet another stir. The chronic grad student is now at the root of a lawsuit against New York University, where professor Jose Angel Santana is claiming he lost his post as head of acting at the Tisch School of the Arts because he gave Franco a “D” grade.

“The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment,” Santana said in an interview with the New York Post. He said he thinks Franco deserved the grade, considering the actor only managed to show up to two of 14 class sessions.

Santana claims that NYU was willing to do anything Franco asked as long as the school, or even certain individuals, stood to gain from his enrollment. He said that Franco eventually hired NYU professor Jay Anania to write and direct a film, and gave John Tintori, the graduate film department chairman, a cameo in another piece.

“They’ve turned the NYU graduate film degree into swag for James Franco’s purposes,” Santana told the Post.

The New York State Supreme Court will decide on the matter; the professor hopes he will be rehired once evidence of Franco’s nefarious influence becomes apparent. NYU has so far refused to comment.

So has Franco been a delinquent over in Linsly-Chittenden, too? Far from it, according to Franco’s doctoral adviser, Robert John Williams, who published a stirring defense of the actor on Slate some hours after the Santana story broke.

Williams argued that Franco has committed significant time to his studies at Yale, often doing extra reading and watching additional relevant films while facing considerable professional commitments.

“He … was respectful, interested and eager to find out more about how he could pursue his interests in both film and literature during his time at Yale,” Williams wrote. He also said that Franco is becoming a scholar we must take seriously, and said studying film theory with Franco has been “thrilling.”

Williams noted that A-list actors like Franco also have more downtime on movie sets than popularly believed, providing ample opportunity to read for his courses. Something about the image of James Franco reading film theory on the set of “Oz: The Great and Powerful” gives Cross Campus chills.