This morning, the Los Angeles Times published a story detailing the accounts of five women who have accused actor and filmmaker James Franco of sexually inappropriate behavior. The piece came after the New York Times canceled an event with the actor in light of the accusations and after Franco made two appearances on late night television shows, brushing off the allegations while still attempting to claim solidarity with the Time’s Up movement.
The LAT piece describes a pattern of predatory behavior by Franco, especially in his role as an acting teacher at both Playhouse West and Studio 4, a film school he launched. It claims he repeatedly approached his female students to appear in “art films” that seemed to always require nudity, and that he would routinely cross lines during the making of these movies.
A particularly harrowing account came from actress Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who publicly called Franco out on Twitter after his Golden Globes win. She said she was asked to be part of a “bonus scene,” an orgy, as part of Franco’s upcoming film The Long Home:
A handful of other women were selected to appear with Franco, who simulated performing oral sex on each of them, Tither-Kaplan said. But in each case, she said he removed a clear plastic guard that covered their vaginas — and continued to simulate the sex act with no protection.
Franco’s lawyer denied all of the claims against him to the LAT. Franco himself denied them on national television, telling Seth Meyers last night, “The [accusations on Twitter] I read were not accurate, but one of the things that I’ve learned is that this is a conversation that obviously needs to be had.”
This brings me to HBO, which airs The Deuce, a show Franco is currently starring in.
In a statement released before the LAT piece was published—but after Franco had already been confronted by Stephen Colbert about the accounts of women who had spoken out against him on Twitter—HBO said the following to Deadline:
We have verified that no complaints about Mr. Franco have come in on The Deuce production.
A passionate defense if there ever was one! There is no mention of any of the women, or even concern that one of HBO’s biggest current stars might have been engaged in horrifying behavior—only an attempt by the network to save its own skin.
So now that these more detailed allegations have emerged, will HBO do something to make clear that it takes harassment by its stars seriously even if it doesn’t specifically happen on its premises? I’ve reached out to the network to find out and will update this post if I hear back.