First he got a D – and now James Franco is being sued


James Franco, the Oscar-nominated actor, is being sued for defamation by a former professor who claims he was fired from a prestigious New York college after giving the star a "D" grade.

José Angel Santana said Franco, 34, only turned up to two of his 14 classes in directing at the Tisch School of Arts, telling the New York Post that the Spider-Man villain "uses the bully pulpit of his celebrity to punish anyone who doesn't do his bidding".

On Tuesday, Mr Santana launched a civil action at the Manhattan Supreme Court, seeking unspecified monetary damages and claiming Franco had made "disparaging and inaccurate public statements" that led to him being fired from his $70,000 (£44,000) position in September last year.

In April, Franco told reporters that Santana was "awful", saying: "I didn't feel like I needed to waste my time with a bad teacher." He said no professor would be fired for handing out a D grade, claiming: "He was asked not to come back after three years because they didn't think he was a good teacher." Adding insult to injury, Franco said: "He is not going to be hired at another institution."

In his latest retort, Mr Santana said: "I was outraged that someone with his attendance record at NYU had the audacity to make those statements."

He said other professors "bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment," and that his "overwhelmingly positive student evaluations" couldn't rescue his job when "bully" Franco publicly insulted his teaching.

Franco's acting is often the subject of critical praise, but his off-screen work has received mixed reviews. On the publication of his first short story collection, Palo Alto, in 2010, the LA Times summed it up best by patronisingly saying: "Just because he's a handsome young actor doesn't mean he can't write a book if he wants to."