January 16, 2018
Franco Latest to Face Harassment Claims
If someone sat around making a list of Hollywood actors they might think would be next to be featured in the headlines generated by the ongoing #MeToo movement, would James Franco be on that list? Not likely…
That is, until a recent LA Times article in which several women pointed accusatory fingers at Franco for what has been described as “inappropriate” sexual behavior. Two of the accusers said the encounters happened on set, while Franco was directing them.
According to the article, former students of Franco said the culture at his acting school, Studio 4, was “unprofessional,” particularly when he taught about sex scenes. Two more women claimed Franco was “angry” when they would not go topless for a scene set in a strip club.
Franco appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to address the accusations. In that interview, Franco said he supported the women’s right to speak out, but that their accounts were “not accurate.” Franco’s attorneys have yet to make any statements to the media, however, Franco was open about the situation, telling Meyers:
“There are stories that need to get out, people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story, but I believe that these people have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in that so much… If I have to take a knock because I’m not gonna, you know, try and, you know, actively refute things, then I will because I believe in it that much.”
After former actress, Ally Sheedy tweeted that Franco was “an example of why I left the movie business…” Franco appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to further protect his brand. In that conversation, Franco said he didn’t know why Sheedy said that. She has since removed that tweet.
Franco’s publicist, Robin Baum, and casting director Cynthia Huffman said at least one of the actresses’ account was “inaccurate.” Huffman added:
“I feel so bad that Sarah feels the way she does. She is part of our camp! All actresses were aware of the nudity scenes ahead of time… I personally checked on all the actresses constantly to make sure they were ok and comfortable. I talked to them several times, and told them if they were uncomfortable or did not like what was going on to come to me immediately and I would take care of it. I did not receive any complaints.”
So, will these complaints have merit in the court of public opinion? So far, perspectives are split. Will it damage Franco’s brand, especially as he’s had good success transitioning to the small screen in HBO’s The Deuce? Time will tell.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.