‘Bully’ James Franco being sued by former NYU professor

Meriah Doty
Movie Talk

Continuing a war of words and litigation that began late last year, James Franco is now being sued for defamation by former NYU professor José Angel Santana. Calling him "a bully," Santana claimed Franco defamed him after he gave the actor a D in his class, citing drastically low attendance.

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

Before suing Franco, Santana first filed suit against NYU in December for wrongful termination, criticizing the university for favoring the 34-year-old actor and then punishing him through isolation and eventually firing him for giving Franco a bad grade. Santana says Franco attended just two of his 14 classes, during which time the actor was shooting "127 hours" -- a role for which he earned an Oscar nomination.

[Related: 'Spring Breakers' Clip: Good girls Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens go bad]

In April, Franco offered justification to inquiring reporters for skipping out on Santana's class: "I decided to do '127 Hours' instead of going to acting class... 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."

During that same Q&A with journalists, when Franco was promoting his film "The Broken Tower," he also said, "No teacher will ever be fired from NYU for giving a student a D," later adding that he didn't "care one bit about the grade" he got. "[Santana] wasn't fired, he was asked not to come back after three years because they didn't think he was a good teacher," Franco said. Franco himself taught his first class at NYU in fall 2011, and added of Santana, "He's not going to win the lawsuit [against NYU] and he's not going to get hired at another institution... It's ridiculous. And I'm teaching at NYU, so what does that say?"

It's that very response Franco gave to journalists that Santana is now suing the actor over, claiming Franco made "disparaging and inaccurate public statements." "I didn't deserve to be on the receiving end of those falsehoods," Santana further told the Post, adding, "I was outraged that someone with his attendance record at NYU had the audacity to make those statements."

In his civil suit against the actor, Santana is seeking unspecified financial damages through the Manhattan Supreme Court.

Franco's latest film is drug-and-sex indie movie "Spring Breakers," also starring Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. The film premiered this week at the Venice Film Festival and will also screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is being covered by Yahoo! Movies.

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