Did James Franco's Bad Grade Cost Professor His Job? NYU Calls Claims 'Ridiculous'

2:57 PM PST 12/19/2011 by Jethro Nededog
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Graduate film instructor Jose Angel Santana says he was fired after giving the celebrity student a barely passing grade and for not abiding by the "Franco-friendly" environment at the school.

We’ve all seen the photo of James Franco nodding off in class, but at least he showed up. So, what’s the consequence for when he doesn’t come to class? A former NYU professor says it’s a barely passing grad in his film class and he says he was fired for giving the actor just that.

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According to the New York Post, film professor Jose Angel Santana is suing New York University for his teaching job back after he claims the university fired him for giving Franco a “D” in his “Directing the Actor II” class. He says the actor missed 12 of the classes’ 14 sessions.

“The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that’s for sure,” Santana, 58, tells the newspaper. “The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco.”

[pullquote] Santana says that Franco’s attendance in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts has led to several of his colleagues awarding the star with high grades despite similar absences in their classes.

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He also says that the inflated grades and preferential treatment are like payback to the actor for the publicity he generates for the school and for hiring one of his former colleagues, professor Jay Anania, to direct the film William Vincent. The film stars Franco and went on to screen at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. The 127 Hours star also currently teaches a poetry/film class at NYU.

The angry professor also says that the graduate film department chairman, John Tintori, created a conflict of interest after appearing in a cameo role in an indie film that was written and directed by Anania and financed by Franco.

NYU spokesman John Beckman issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Santana's lawsuit.

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"We have not seen the lawsuit yet, but the claims we are seeing in the media are ridiculous,” Beckman states. “Beyond that, it is regrettable and disappointing to see a faculty member -- former or otherwise -- discuss any student's grade for the purpose of personal publicity."

Franco attended graduate school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for filmmaking while concurrently enrolled at Columbia University's MFA writing program, and Brooklyn College for fiction writing, among stints in other schools and programs. He received his MFA from Columbia last year and graduated with an MFA from NYU last May.

READ: Santana's full complaint here.

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro

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