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Teacher claims James Franco defamed him

James Franco, pictured at the premiere of Spring Breakers in Venice, has been accused of defaming a former teacher. Photo / AP
James Franco, pictured at the premiere of Spring Breakers in Venice, has been accused of defaming a former teacher. Photo / AP

A former New York University professor who claims he was fired after giving James Franco a "D" is suing the actor for defamation.

José Angel Santana filed a civil action in the Manhattan supreme court, according to the New York Post.

In the suit, Santana contends that Franco made "disparaging and inaccurate public statements" about him after he gave the 127 Hours star the low grade in his Directing the Actor II class in 2010 - because of his poor attendance record.

"Whoever was in Clint Eastwood's chair at the Republican National Convention was more present than Mr Franco was in my classes," Santana told the Post.

"He uses the bully pulpit of his celebrity to punish anyone who doesn't do his bidding."

The disgruntled former prof previously filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against NYU in December, claiming that after he gave Franco the low grade - for allegedly missing 12 out of 14 classes - he was fired.

"Santana, as a full-time professor in the department, had every right to give such a grade to a student who failed to adequately attend and participate in his class," he charged in his suit at the time.

A rep for the uni branded Santana's lawsuit "ridiculous," adding, "It is regrettable and disappointing to see a faculty member - former or otherwise - discuss any student's grade for the purpose of his or her personal publicity."

After Santana was given the boot, Franco - who was later hired by the uni as a lecturer on how to adapt poetry into short films - had some harsh words for his former instructor.

"No teacher will ever be fired from NYU for giving a student a D," Franco had told reporters in April, according to ABC News.

"He wasn't fired, he was asked not to come back after three years because they didn't think he was a good teacher.

"I decided to do 127 Hours instead of going to acting class," he said.

"I've been in eight years of acting class. I didn't feel like I needed to waste my time with a bad teacher and that I should go and work with Danny Boyle. I felt like that was the right decision."

He continued: "I did not care one bit about the grade, I knew I was going to get the grade.

"I don't even know what my grades are in NYU because grades don't matter, what matters is the films that you make. Anybody coming out of film school is not going to go to Sony or Warner Bros and say 'Hey, I got an A in acting class, give me a job.'"

In an interview with the Post about the new lawsuit, Santana branded Franco a "bully" and said, "I didn't deserve to be on the receiving end of those falsehoods".

Adding: "I was outraged that someone with his attendance record at NYU had the audacity to make those statements."

Chimed Santana's lawyer, Matthew Blit: "When the suit was filed against him, Mr Franco initially took the high road and said nothing.

"Unfortunately, he could not help himself once his new movie [The Broken Tower] was being released."

Santana is seeking unspecified monetary damages, the Post reports.

No word as yet from Franco's rep on the lawsuit.

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