Post Academic

Your latest James Franco update

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on September 26, 2010
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By now, you probably know that James Franco has started his Ph.D. program at Yale,  but that’s not all: Did you know that he’s apparently also taking classes at the Rhode Island School of Design?  Haters who’ve gone through some grad school might be inclined to be a bit skeptical about how serious our favorite celeb grad student is about getting his Ph.D. at a really top-flight program if he’s dabbling in another program of study.  Art + Auction’s “In the Air” blog is a bit dubious about Franco’s plans, thinking that “this is physically impossible (the schools are in different states)”; even if CT and RI are small states, that’s still 100 miles each way.  (Wait, maybe he’s learning to fly too — see photo below — to cut down on the commute time.)  That’s not to mention, you know, the actual coursework, though maybe he’s just auditing at RISD or something.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a grad student..."James Franco Blue Angels", courtesy of the US Navy (Public Domain)

Still, despite its naysaying, In the Air does point out that Franco might just be taking his interest in art seriously, pointing out that he has been involved with some heavy hitters in the art world recently.  In particular, it notes that current LA MOCA Director and noted gallerist Jeffrey Deitch is on record telling the LA Times that, “I wish Andy were here to meet James Franco. Andy would have been so enthusiastic” — Andy being Andy Warhol.  And in a review of an installation art piece by Franco, the New York Times notes that Franco has had a life-long passion for the visual arts, even though it is less sanguine about his prospects as an artist, giving his exhibit a meh at best for its gratuitous violence and sex.  These lines pretty much sum up Roberta Smith’s mixed review:

Some people would probably feel better to read that Mr. Franco’s Clocktower effort can be dismissed as bad beyond redemption, an outsider’s naïve dalliance in things he doesn’t really understand. I initially inclined toward that conclusion, although in the end it turned out to be more interesting and complicated than that.

Despite the second sentence, you just get the sense that Smith really wants to be “some people” hating on Franco’s art, don’t you?

But I digress, because the big news for those of us interested in Franco’s foray into grad school is the big news making the rounds of the gossip columns is that Franco has admitted to earning a “D” in, get this, acting, while earning his master’s at NYU.  As he tells Showbiz 411:

“I did the work, I did well in everything else,” he said. “But the acting teacher probably felt uncomfortable with a working well known actor in his class. It was not the norm.” Also, as Franco pointed out, he missed a lot of classes because he was shooting “127 Hours.”

Excuses, excuses — though he might have a point, because a grad school “D” sounds like a pretty vindictive grade.  But is this what he’s gonna pull come December when his first round of papers are due and he needs to take incompletes to finish a film or something?   It’s time for Franco to buckle down on that Walt Whitman class he’s apparently taking, which, he tells Showbiz 411, has a “massive amount of reading.”  It must be this one taught by Michael Warner, so Franco better make sure not make the chair who accepted him into the Ph.D. program look bad.  In any case, his advisor at Yale might want to sit the school’s prized first-year student down and get him focused, provided s/he can figure out where Franco is, between New Haven, Providence, NYC, and Hollywood.

We were right about James Franco not teaching

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on August 1, 2010
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"James Franco Feb 09" by John Harrison (Creative Commons license)

We at Post Academic have been all over the big–and really only?–celeb/academia crossover story of 2010: James Franco enrolling in the Yale Ph.D. program.  The last thing we heard about was Franco’s stated desire to start teaching immediately upon entering as a grad student, something we claimed–rightly– that Ivy types would not be doing as first years.  We suggested that Franco attend an equally well-regarded public university Ph.D. program if teaching was so important to him, since I’m sure any UC that would accept him would happily let him pass along his fellowship package to someone else.  Speaking of which, I wonder what kind of funding package Franco is getting or whether he would just pass up a fellowship, considering he’s gotta be making millions for being in a Planet of the Apes remake prequel.

Anyway, here’s how the (not) teaching saga went down: Apparently, Franco claimed on “Good Morning America” earlier in the month that he would be teaching a “very special class” starting in January 2011.  This, however, lead to a clarification by Yale English chair Michael Warner in the school paper explaining that grad students don’t typically start teaching at Yale until their 3rd years and that Franco’s proposal to teach a self-designed course was turned down–ouch!  However, Franco’s proposal has somehow been turned into some kind of project that’s either a musical or film, described by the Most Famous Soon-to-Be Grad Student Ever as a “stage/film/musical/crazy production.”  So that’s what it takes to get into one of the best programs in the country, in case anyone reading is preparing her/his application.

What’s probably more interesting, at least to us geeks, is the way a media that is totally clueless about academia has been covering the story.  Perez Hilton doesn’t seem to have any grasp of what an academic calendar is like, describing the incoming student as “currently enrolled.”  Perhaps more galling and totally inaccurate is the way that has already put Franco on the tenure track: “James Franco, college professor? It’s happening–and it’s not for a role.”  So according to MTV, either anyone who teaches at a college-level is a professor or any Ph.D. student is a college professor.  OK, we might expect this from MTV, but even the Yale Daily News, which probably should know better, gets confused in its headline: “Sorry, Ladies: No Prof. Franco just yet.”  Gotta love, too, how the Yalie commenters blasted the headline for the heteronormative assumptions of the headline, exclaiming that, “This is Yale, we gay boys were clamoring for Franco, too!”

Breaking!: James Franco to actually attend Yale English

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on May 4, 2010
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"James Franco discussing the film Milk" by David Shankbone (Creative Commons)

We know that this is the celebrity news you’ve been waiting for: According to People, actor James Franco has ended weeks of speculation and will be attending Yale’s Ph.D. English program.  And get this, he wants to start TAing as soon as he starts!  The Yale Herald pops this balloon by explaining what’s at least obvious to us, that first-year Ph.D. students don’t teach at Yale–and anyway, can you trust a grad student wants to teach right from the beginning?  If he wants to teach so much, maybe Mr. Franco could attend one of the equally well-reputed UC grad programs–like at his alma mater, UCLA–which would be happy to get as much cheap labor out of him as possible teaching intro-level comp!

But really, that’s pretty cool that Franco seems so enthusiastic about starting grad school that he’s champing at the bit to teach.  Here’s what he had to say about being a student to People:

“I love school,” Franco told PEOPLE at the Tribeca Film Festival screening of his directorial debut, the documentary Saturday Night, in New York Sunday. “I go to school because I love being around people who are interested in what I’m interested in and I’m having a great experience.”

Seriously, that sounds like a good enough reason to pursue your Ph.D., especially if you don’t have to worry about the worst job market ever.  And hey, we’ve got our lead when we start to cast, Post Academic: The Movie!

(h/t to reader Patty for the breaking celeb gossip)