After James Franco swatted away the big reason for why he won a Golden Globe in the first place on Sunday night, he took to the mic to accept his trophy and probably thought for the next couple of months, everyone would be eating his ass while telling him that he would be an Oscar winner soon. But that dream bubble over James Franco’s head has been popped by an exposé from the Los Angeles Times.
On Golden Globes night, several women got the dry heaves when James Franco made an appearance on their screens, and not just because they were hit by a moist cloud of smarmy floating off of him. They thought it was a joke that he was wearing a Time’s Up pin when they know him as being on the opposite side of that movement. Ally Sheedy tweeted, and then deleted, several tweets implying that James Franco is the reason why she left the movie business. Two other women, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Violet Paley, tweeted their own stories about him that night. Sarah and Violet are also two of five women who talked to the Los Angeles Times. Four of those five were students of James Franco’s at either his film school Studio 4 or Playhouse West in North Hollywood. Studio 4 opened locations in NYC and L.A. in 2014. Both locations shut down last fall.
The women all say that the one-time savior to the gay community was a mentor to them, and he used that power to get them naked or into uncomfortable situations. Hilary Dusome and Natalie Chmiel, who took a class from James in 2012 at Playhouse West, said that he picked them and other female students to be in what they thought was an art film. That art filmed turned out to be a commercial for 7 For All Mankind jeans. They say the commercial was shot in a strip club and at one point James asked the women which one of them was going to get topless. When his question was met with tumbleweeds and crickets, he threw a hissy fit and stormed off. Hilary and Natalie both said that because they were newbies trying to get into the business, he took advantage of them.
While many students of Studio 4 told the L.A. Times that they had good experiences with James Franco, others say the opposite. Part of Studio 4’s sales pitch was that Douche Professor Franco promised to put his students in his own projects. One of his students, Katie Ryan, said that James made the women believe that they’d only get roles if they took off their shirts or did sex stuff. And now I suddenly have the image of James Franco as the creeper during Coco’s audition in Fame.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan says that she agreed to do a topless scene in his movie The Long Home, and she also agreed to be in the background of an unplanned orgy scene with him. She claims that the women who acted directly with James in the scene were wearing clear plastic guards that covered their down-low parts since they weren’t filming porn. Sarah says that James took each woman’s plastic guard off and continued to pretend to give them oral with no protection.
Violet told the L.A. Times the same story she gave on Twitter. Violet, who was dating James Franco at the time, said he forced her to give him oral.
James Franco’s lawyer denied the allegations. Sarah and Violet say that James Franco reached out to both of them and burped up empty apologies. While hustling on the Oscar stroll by appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert the other night, James Franco responded to the tweets from Ally, Sarah and Violet by saying that their allegations are not accurate, but he’s not going to shut them down, because he supports women speaking out.
James’ Oscar campaign once again turned into a damage control campaign when he was on Late Night with Seth Meyers yesterday. The interview with Seth went down before the L.A. Times story came out, so he wasn’t asked about the allegations in that. But Seth asked him about the tweets from Ally, Sarah and Violet. James dribbled out the same PR-crafted responses he gave to Colbert. He said that the accusations aren’t completely true, but he supports people speaking out and wants to keep the conversation moving…. moving onto someone else, I’m sure. He also said that he hasn’t tried to talk to Ally Sheedy and he’s just letting it be.
What’s most surprising about this, besides the fact that all the women were older than 17, is that James Franco responded the way that he did. You would think that one of the greatest and most thought-provoking artists of our time would say something like:
I would like to apologize for failing my students by not opening up their minds enough to realize that I, controversial forward-thinking artiste James Franco, was doing an intense long form performance art piece on the sexual harassment problem that has plagued Hollywood since the beginning of Hollywood. A performance art piece that was done long before the #MeToo movement. It’s truly hard out there for artistically woke pioneers like me.