Home Celebrity James Franco’s Former Acting Teacher Suing NYU: It Started Here

Well, this is out of left field. A little over a year ago, we did a video (shot by our trusty videographer Chris Barrett) interview with Oscar nominee James Franco. Remember? He told us he got a D in acting class at New York University as part of his grad program. The video is below in the video player. Now the acting teacher, Jose Angel Santana, is suing NYU. He says they fired him because he gave Franco the D. He’s represented by young labor lawyer Matthew Blit, who’s also represented strippers who felt their rights were being violated. Monday, Monday! Blit has never contacted this column. But Santana doesn’t deny he gave the bad grade. But we have no idea yet why NYU got rid of Blit–it’s just his claim. NYU will surely file a counterclaim.

The New York Post says Santana and Blit are claiming Franco was an absentee student. But Franco was shooting “127 Hours” during that semester. He had to cut off his own arm! Isn’t that considered Life Experience? And Franc-ly (to employ a Post-like pun) the Oscar nominee has been incredibly popular with his fellow students at NYU, where acting class was a small part of his Masters program in filmmaking.

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UPDATE Matthew Blit has sent over the complaint. It has less to do with Franco than with Santana’s accusations of racial discrimination. He also says that another professor, Jay Anania, also the brother of the late Elizabeth Edwards, had it in for him. Anania wound up working with Franco as a director on a film project. But Santana’s biggest complaint is that he was paid less than other teachers and stuck in an office that used to be a broom closet.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
4 replies to this post
  1. Franco stated (factually) that he received a failing grade. The professor acknowledged the he gave said grade. Am I missing the part where he should be sued for deformation of character?

  2. On average a class semester is about 16 weeks. This course was comprised of 14 classes. Essentially one class per week. Franco attended 2 out of 14 classes. I don’t know if attendance accounted for any part of the grade, but if so any “regular” student had missed 80% of their classes they would have received a failing grade.

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