Two former students have sued James Franco, alleging the actor’s Studio 4 film school was established to lure women in and sexually exploit them.
It all started with a Time’s Up pin.
Back in 2018, Franco won the coveted Golden Globe award for Best Actor and donned the pin in support of sexual harassment and assault awareness, triggering a negative response on Twitter. The women who tweeted claimed that Studio 4, which launched in 2014 and folded in 2017, was nothing but a scheme that provided Franco and his team with a group of young females to exploit. Many women who attended Studio 4 posted about specific times Franco had assaulted them, and it was apparently so triggering for Franco that he called some of them up to apologize.
Five females spoke with the LA Times in January of 2018, providing the outlet with more details. In the article, the women described Franco forcing them to perform sexual scenes that went beyond the industry standard (including orgies without protective guards), promising them film roles for nudity, and replacing females in his acting classes who felt uncomfortable with the level of nudity he requested.
At that time, Franco responded during an interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” by stating he supported their claims even though they weren’t true.
“There were some things on Twitter,” Franco said. “Umm, yeah, I haven’t read them. I’ve heard about them. […] I don’t want to shut them down in any way. It’s… it’s… I think it’s a good thing.”
Now Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, two of those students who spoke with the LA Times, are suing. The suit accuses Franco and his team—business partner Vince Jolivette, Rabbit Bandini Productions, and production general manager Jay Davis—of sex discrimination, intimidation, sexual harassment and fraudulent business practices.
“I feel there was an abuse of power,” Tither-Kaplan said to the LA Times. “And there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women, and a culture of women being replaceable.”
Franco and his attorney plan to fight back.
“James will not only fully defend himself,” Franco’s lawyer, Michael Plonsker, said. “But will also seek damages from the plaintiffs and their attorneys for filing this scurrilous publicity-seeking lawsuit.”
Per the lawsuit, the women are asking for legal fee compensation, punitive damages, back pay and royalties for work on Rabbit Bandini productions, and a refund on their tuition. It also requests that Franco, Jolivette, and Davis participate in sensitivity training for sexual harassment and issue a public apology.
Times Up Now responded to the news by stating, “If these allegations are true, we hope the survivors, and all impacted by this behavior, receive some measure of justice.”
There’s no news yet regarding the timetable of this suit.