Jose Angel Santana, a former professor at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, is suing the school based on his claim they fired him after giving the Hollywood A-lister a D.
Over the course of the past couple years James Franco’s academic prowess has garnered a lot of attention. In a ridiculous display of multitasking Franco was simultaneously working towards advanced degrees in creative writing, filmmaking, poetry and English while maintaining his thriving acting career. When he found out he was nominated for Best Actor for his gritty performance in “127 Hours” he was sitting in an English Phd. class at Yale.
Franco’s academic ambition was still hard to take seriously. He was taking more credits in one semester than most undergraduates take in two years, and his classrooms were spread out all across the country. It was nearly impossible to be unimpressed by his feat in academia, but it was also impossible to not scratch your head and wonder what his endgame was.
While many teachers have lauded Franco for his focus and commitment in the classroom, especially considering his other more lucrative obligations, former NYU professor Jose Angel Santana is not amongst them. The ex-Tisch School teacher famously gave Franco a D in his class due to his lack of attendance, reportedly missing 12 of the 14 classes that semester. Franco inevitably threw a very public fit over his poor grade, and eventually Santana was fired by his department. Now he’s suing.
“The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that’s for sure,” Santana, 58, told The Post. “The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco.”
Santana, who is suing NYU in Manhattan Supreme Court for his job back, asserts that Franco, whose career took off after a 2001 portrayal of James Dean, acted like a rebel without a clue in his other courses, too, blowing off just as many classes. But the star’s other professors at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts still gave him good grades, Santana said…
“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 said.
If anything Santana will be great for a good soundbite—relating degrees to some form of academic swag for Franco is a strange, but rather apt analogy. The jilted ex-professor also pointed out that Franco gave one professor a job writing and directing a film he is starring in, and offered the chair of the department a walk-on cameo role in a different film. Santana pointed out that this conflict of interest may have tipped the grade scale in his favor.
Ever since Franco’s ambitious academic schedule became public I’ve been waiting for someone to call bullshit on his merits. If James Franco wasn’t a Hollywood A-list star would he have ever been accepted to Columbia for a masters in creative writing or Yale for a doctorate degree in English? I sincerely doubt it, however this good publicity in exchange for good grades situation that allegedly went on at NYU could be a pretty damning hit for the integrity of the school.
But then of course there’s always the possibility that Santana really hated “Spiderman 3.”