James Franco’s #MeToo woes aren’t over. Last year, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, a number of women accused Franco of “sexual misconduct”—which can mean anything from a questionable joke to rape. One of these women, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, was a student in one of Franco’s film classes. On January 8, 2018, she wrote on Twitter:
“Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes, remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn’t exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times [sic] up on that!”
Tither-Kaplan’s logic is a little confusing. If you sign a contract in which you agree to expose your nude body in a film, does that not imply consent? If you felt the contract was exploitative, why sign it? If you didn’t then but do now, is that the other party’s problem?
We’ll see. The New York Times reports that Tither-Kaplan and another of Franco’s students, Toni Gaal, have sued the actor for allegedly exploiting them. The complaint was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and argues that Franco and other faculty at the Studio 4 acting school “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 allegedly ran a “sex scenes masterclass” that included (presumably explicit) audition tapes. The tapes were allegedly kept by Franco, who, per some contract, has sole rights to them. This was apparently made clear before the auditions were filmed.
Tither-Kaplan and Gaal say they were exploited by this arrangement; they want monetary compensation as well as the destruction of said tapes.
“I can’t sleep at night knowing that my coming forward, originally, did not do the work that I wanted it to do yet,” Tither-Kaplan told the Times. “There still has been no action, publicly, that shows me that these people know what they did is wrong and harmful and can’t been repeated.”
Franco’s attorney dismissed the allegations as “claims have been made and they have already been debunked.” He continued:
“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.”