In September former NYU professor Jose Angel Santana headed to Manhattan Supreme Court seeking unspecified monetary damages in a civil action suit against James Franco. Santana had previously filed suit against NYU, claiming he was fired for giving the actor a D in his "Directing the Actor II" course (Franco missed 12 of the 14 classes). This time Santana says Franco made “disparaging and inaccurate public statements” about him after the aforementioned suit... and indeed, Franco did tell reporters that Santana was "awful," and that he “didn’t feel like I needed to waste my time with a bad teacher. He’s not going to win the lawsuit and he’s not going to get hired at another institution." Unsurprisingly, NYU has now come to Franco's side [insert animated handjob GIF here].
According to The Hollywood Reporter, yesterday NYU (also a defendant in the lawsuit) "stood up for Franco, asking a New York judge to dismiss Santana's claims. The school says that the law only protects false statements of fact, not opinions, and NYU believes, 'The comments at issue consisted of nothing other than Franco's personal opinions regarding Santana's teaching skills.'" This leaves it to a matter of the nature of truth vs. opinion.
While defending the actor—who a few months ago addressed the lawsuit by saying: "It's ridiculous. And I’m teaching at NYU, so what does that say?"—NYU has also said they are not responsible for what Franco says. They noted this week that he "is a famous actor and director who has many duties and responsibilities outside the scope of his employment as an adjunct professor at NYU, no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were made in the scope of his NYU employment."