×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

James Franco’s Acting Students Allege Sexual Exploitation

Two former students of James Franco’s now-closed acting school filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the classes existed principally to create a way for Franco and his associates to take advantage of young women.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed the class action complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court, saying that Franco and his partners “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.”

Franco and his business partner Vince Jolivette opened the Studio 4 school in 2014, with branches in New York and Los Angeles.

The suit alleges that the students paid $300 a month, thinking they were participating in a bona fide acting school. Instead, the women claim they were intimidated and sexually objectified, and found that those who were willing to disrobe in front of Franco and his friends were afforded special treatment.

“As Plaintiffs experienced and observed, Studio 4 served no other legitimate purposes other than to dupe unsuspecting and often very young ‘students’ out of their money and talent to serve Defendants’ financial and exploitative desires,” the suit states.

As part of the school, Franco taught a “master class” on sex scenes, according to the complaint. In auditions for the master classes, the students were pressured to engage in sexual activity that went well beyond the industry norm, the plaintiffs allege. The auditions were taped, and Franco would review the tapes to see who would be allowed into the class.

Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, said that Franco will seek damages against the plaintiffs and their attorneys for bringing a “scurrilous” lawsuit.

“This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked,” Plonsker said. “We have not had an opportunity to review the ill-informed Complaint in depth since it was leaked to the press before it was filed and our client has yet to even be served. James will not only fully defend himself, but will also seek damages from the plaintiffs and their attorneys for filing this scurrilous publicity seeking lawsuit.”

The complaint states claims of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, fraud, and false advertising. It seeks to establish two plaintiff classes: one for students who were sexually exploited, and a second for all Studio 4 students, who the suit claims were all defrauded. The class action attorneys, at the firm of Valli Kane & Vagnini, are looking for additional students to come forward to participate in the suit.

Tither-Kaplan is one of five women who came forward with allegations against Franco in a January 2018 article in the Los Angeles Times. Franco’s attorney denied the allegations at the time.

Franco stars on the HBO show “The Deuce,” now in its third and final season. David Simon, the show’s co-creator and executive producer, has previously said that no complaints have been lodged against Franco in connection with the show.

“In our experience, he was entirely professional as an actor, director, and producer,” Simon said last year.

More Biz

  • Rose McGowan

    Rose McGowan Files Racketeering Suit Against Harvey Weinstein, David Boies, Lisa Bloom

    Rose McGowan filed a racketeering lawsuit on Wednesday against Harvey Weinstein, as well as against his ex-attorneys Lisa Bloom and David Boies and the spy firm Black Cube. The lawsuit alleges that Weinstein conspired with his attorneys to suppress and discredit her allegation that Weinstein raped her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. “This [...]

  • hulu-logo

    Hulu Appoints Netflix's Spencer Peeples as Vice President of Film and Awards Marketing

    Hulu has appointed Spencer Peeples, who currently works as director of awards at Netflix, as its vice president of film and awards marketing, marking the first time the Disney-owned streamer has hired a senior exec dedicated to awards. In his new high-profile role, Peeples will lead the strategy and execution of Hulu’s awards campaigns, as [...]

  • UTA headshot

    UTA Taps Ashley Momtaheni as Director of Corporate Communications

    Ashley Momtaheni is jumping ship from Annapurna Pictures to UTA. The agency has tapped Momtaheni as its new director of corporate communications, reporting to its global chief communications officer, Seth Oster. In her new role, Momtaheni will focus primarily on external communications, rounding out UTA’s senior communications team with veteran UTA comms executive Lisa Stein [...]

  • Euphoria HBO

    'It's an Explosion': Inside the Rising Costs of Making a Scripted TV Series

    When Apple TV plus launches on Nov. 1, it will do so with what’s arguably the most expensive new-series lineup in TV history. Among the streamer’s initial offerings are the drama “The Morning Show,” bearing a price tag believed to be more than $15 million an episode, and the dystopian sci-fi series “See,” which is [...]

  • CBS HEADQUARTERS

    Wall Street Trims ViacomCBS Forecasts After Post-Deal Financial Disclosure

    Top media analysts have cut their short-term growth prospects for ViacomCBS following last week’s financial disclosures that came as part of the closing of CBS Corp.’s stock-swap takeover deal for Viacom. In the Oct. 17 filing, CBS Corp. released specific year-to-year projections for its free cash flow yield, guidance that the company has not offered [...]

  • Alexander Vlahos (Monsieur/Philippe d'Orléans), George Blagden

    Merged Banijay-Endemol Shine Would Be Global Powerhouse in a Content-Hungry World

    If France’s Banijay Group clinches its proposed purchase of Endemol Shine, which could happen within the next few days, the deal would mark peak M&A in the international indie content world. The MO of both companies is acquiring and aggregating brands and IP, and their union would be the largest ever of its kind on [...]

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content