Did James Franco's bad grade cost a professor his job? Roger that, charges a former New York University staffer in a lawsuit.
José Angel Santana has filed a suit against the school in New York State Supreme Court, according to TMZ.com, in which he claims he was fired for giving star student Franco a 'D' in his Directing the Actor II class.
Santana says he slapped the 127 Hours star with the poor grade after he allegedly failed to attend almost all of his classes, while pursuing a master's in fine arts in 2010. He says the actor missed 12 of the classes' 14 sessions.
"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," the suit states.
"The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that's for sure," Santana tells the New York Post, "The university has done everything in its power to curry favour with James Franco."
Santana, who is suing the university for his job back, also asserts in the lawsuit that Franco's attendance at other classes within NYU's Tisch School of the Arts was poor, but his former colleagues still awarded the star with high grades.
"Santana suggested that the good grades Franco received were payback to the actor for hiring one of his other professors, Jay Anania," reports the Post.
Franco hired Anania to write and direct the film William Vincent (which also starred Franco), according to the suit.
"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.
"It's a very, as I call it, 'Franco friendly' environment, that is willing to bend over backwards to curry favour with him," Santana told CBS News.
The disgruntled prof also claims that chairman of the graduate film department, John Tintori, created a conflict of interest after he was given a cameo role in an indie flick financed by Franco, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Franco owned up to the poor grade during an interview last year, admitting that he missed a few classes while filming 127 Hours. "I did the work," the Spider-Man star told Showbiz411.com at the time, adding, "I did well in everything else".
Click here to read the lawsuit (pdf).
Santana's legal muscle has also piped up about the suit, which, according to E! News, doesn't hinge entirely on him doling out a D.
"Professor Santana, because of his ethnicity [Spanish] was treated unfairly by his department," attorney Matthew Blit tells the website.
"He was paid less than other professors within the department and worked out of a storage closet as an office with water leaks."
Adds Blit: "We would like him to be rehired. He would accept [NYU's] apologies."
Optimistic, given NYU's stance on the suit.
"We have not seen the lawsuit yet, but the claims we are seeing in the media are ridiculous," spokesman John Beckman tells THR in a statement.
"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."
Beckman adds that "Santana was not terminated from the university; his contract was not renewed," reports CNN.
Franco - who was later hired by the uni as a lecturer on how to adapt poetry into short films - has yet to comment on the lawsuit.
He'll get right on it, after a power nap.
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