Watch out, University of Houston professors: James Franco may have it out for you.
José Angel Santana, a professor who instructed Franco at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, claims that he was fired after giving the actor a "D" in a Directing the Actor II course. The New York Post revealed early Monday morning that Santana has filed a lawsuit against NYU over the dismissal, taking the case to the Manhattan Supreme Court in hopes of getting his job back.
According to Santana, Franco (who was concurrently filming 127 Hours) attended only two of 14 classes. Other NYU professors allegedly looked the other way:
"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 . . . In my opinion, they’ve turned the NYU graduate film degree into swag for James Franco's purposes, a possession, something you can buy."
In a video interview between Franco and Showbiz411's Roger Friedman, the actor — equal parts self-effacing and self important — talks about his bad grade and his experience in Santana's class.
"It was weird to be in an acting class again after all of these years. I think it was weird for the teacher," said Franco, admitting that he was absent a great deal of the time, but also asserting that his Hollywood track record should prove that he is deserving of a decent grade.
According to Showbiz411, "[The official complaint] has less to do with Franco than with Santana's accusations of racial discrimination. . . 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."
Still, the accusation has brought to light Franco's allure and influence.
The award-winning actor and blossoming director is slated to pursue a Ph. D. in the University of Houston's creative writing program, beginning September 2012. Franco is also enrolled at Yale, Brooklyn College, Rhode Island School of Design and Warren Wilson College in North Carolina; he is producing two films in post-production and currently acting in two; and he has two more in the pre-production pipeline.
This isn't looking good for Franco's attendance at UH. The creative writing program is prestigious and competitive, and "doctoral students are required to spend one academic year in full-time residency." It would mean a five-year commitment and seemingly a Houston address.
Is Franco dedicated to this doctorate?