Harkening back to the days of actress Jodie Foster mixing with fellow Ivy Leaguers at Yale University as she pursued a degree in literature, actor James Franco is as well-known in some circles for being a budding scholar as he is an actor. However, Foster graduated magna cum laude, making it unlikely she got a “D” in any of her classes. That isn’t the case for Franco and now his former professor claims he was fired for it.
Former visiting arts professor at New York University, Jose Angel Santana, has filed a lawsuit following his dismissal from the school. Franco enrolled in Santana’s “Directing the Actor II” course while working toward his master’s degree in fine arts, but attended only two of 14 classes. Santana gave Franco a “D” – a rather generous grade for a student who missed virtually the entire semester – which he claims is a factor in not renewing his contract. Santana was also vocal about the faculty going easy on Franco in exchange for work on his films and other projects.
The lawsuit alleges that Santana, who is of Cuban and African descent, is the victim of racial discrimination and harassment. Santana claims that his salary of $70,000 per year is less than that of his colleagues, he was demoted from head of the acting program without cause, and he was forced to share a leaky office with a colleague lower on the NYU totem pole.
Franco first came to prominence in the short-lived cult classic TV show, “Freaks and Geeks,” then became a star thanks to his role as Harry Osborn in the “Spiderman” trilogy. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in 2010 for his performance in “127 hours.” The 33 year-old actor was studying in Yale’s doctoral program in English and in August, he was admitted to the doctoral program in creative writing at the University of Houston.