Film News

Seth Rogen Says He Won't Work With James Franco Again

The actor recently spoke with the Sunday Times.

Seth Rogen James Franco

When the Sunday Times asked Seth Rogen about his current relationship with his old friend and frequent collaborator James Franco, the interview took a slightly darker turn.

"What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment," Rogen said when asked if he believed the accusations of sexual misconduct that had been leveled against his former co-star a few years ago. "I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that."

When asked if he has worked with Franco since the allegations arose, Rogen said, "The truth is that I have not, and I do not plan to right now." James Franco had been accused publicly in 2018 by five women of sexual misconduct, including coercion and exploitation.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal additionally filed a lawsuit in 2019 saying that Franco used his now-closed Studio 4 acting school as "a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education." The actor settled the suit this past February.

James Franco texts 17-year-old\u200b

Additionally, actress Charlyne Yi wrote on Instagram last month that she attempted to quit Franco's The Disaster Artist after she had learned about the accusations, but said the production had "tried to bribe me with a bigger acting role." She called out Seth Rogen specifically as an "enabler" who had stood by James Franco. She also criticized a sketch that aired on SNL featuring Seth that "enabled Franco preying on children. Right after Franco was caught." Yi was referring to an incident in 2014 when Franco got caught propositioning sex to a 17-year-old.

"I do look back at a joke I made on Saturday Night Live in 2014, and I very much regret making that joke," Rogen said. "It was a terrible joke, honestly. And I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now." He also clarified that it was not a coincidence that their professional relationship ended after the allegations emerged.

But as for his friendship: "I don't know if I can define that right now during this interview," he says. "I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic." When asked if that was a painful thing to realize, Rogen said, "Yeah. But not as painful and difficult as it's for a lot of other people involved. I have no pity for myself in this situation."

A video has recently leaked via showing Johnny Depp describing a physical fight he had with ex-wife, Amber Heard, that resulted in his losing a portion of his finger.

While the deposition was actually a part of his already settled case against his lawyer of 18 years, Jake Bloom, it's just another example of the bevy of evidence coming out to support Depp's claims that Heard made up allegations against Depp.

In 2016, after filing for divorce, Heard claimed that Depp had been physically and verbally abusive to her. The end of their marriage was legally finalized in January 2017, but, in 2018, Heard wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post once again accusing Depp of severe abuse. This led Depp to file a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard, which includes claims that Heard began having an affair with Elon Musk just a month after marrying Depp.

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TV Features

Before Its Time: "Freaks and Geeks"

20 years ago, Freaks and Geeks aired for an audience that expected a modern Wonder Years but instead got something closer to Dazed and Confused.

The main cast of Freaks and Geeks pictured.

Photo credit Den of Geek

If Netflix announced a new, upcoming series produced by Judd Apatow with a cast including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, Martin Starr, Busy Philipps, Lizzy Caplan, and Shia LaBeouf, it would be one of the most anticipated projects in Hollywood.

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James Franco, Emilia Clarke, and the Importance of SAG's New Sex Scene Rules

Recent revelations highlight the need for oversight in scenes involving nudity and simulated sex.

"Game of Thrones"

The Screen Actors Guild issued new guidelines on Wednesday for the role of an "intimacy coordinator" in overseeing simulated sex and nudity in film productions.

It might be hard to imagine an entire job that revolves around the R-rated scenes in movies, but in recent years it has become increasingly clear what an important and overlooked job it actually is. There are any number of ways in which performers can end up being exploited, harassed, or endangered in the course of filming nudity or a sex scene, and the process of protecting everyone's rights while still producing compelling sex scenes is surprisingly involved. To make the issue clearer, we can look at the cases of Emilia Clarke and James Franco.

Emilia Clarke turned 25 while the first season of Game of Thrones was filming. In theory, she was old enough to advocate for herself and decide what kinds of scenes she was comfortable shooting. But the power dynamics in that situation are potent. Clarke was an unknown actress at the time, fresh out of drama school. Her biggest previous role was in a SyFy original movie called Triassic Attack, and the prospect of a major role on an HBO drama would have been huge for her career even if Game of Thrones hadn't turned out to be such a hit. That position made her vulnerable to manipulation, and she ended up doing a lot more on-screen nudity than she was actually comfortable with.

Emilia Clarke Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa Instagram

In an interview with Dax Shephard for his Armchair Expert podcast, she talked about feeling like she was not in a position to advocate for herself or push for changes to the scenes that involved nudity and simulated sex. She explained that her attitude became "I'm gonna go cry in the bathroom, and then I'm gonna come back and we're gonna do the scene, and it's gonna be completely fine." It took her some time and some supportive advice from co-star Jason Momoa before she felt confident enough to assert herself in that context and refuse to shoot nude scenes, even when faced with coercive comments like, "you don't want to disappoint your Game of Thrones fans."

Clarke is clearly not alone in needing some help in these situations, which is what makes the details of James Franco's so-called "master class" on sex scenes so disturbing. Through the acting school Studio 4, founded by Franco in 2014 and since shut down, students were promised not only an education in how to navigate sex scenes but also opportunities to audition for roles in films produced by Franco's company, Rabbit Bandini. Subject to approval of audition videos featuring nudity and simulated sex acts—and for an additional $750—students earned the right to send Franco and his colleagues even more videos of themselves in various states of undress and to be pressured into participating in ever more explicit on-screen activity—all while learning very little about actual industry standards.

Whatever defense Franco might use to justify these practices—and any defense should be taken with a grain of salt in the case of a man who knowingly hit on a 17-year-old at the age of 36—the effect was to turn his acting school into a steady source of quasi-pornographic material for himself and his colleagues, some of which actually ended up on a porn site. And a true "master class" on the subject of sex scenes might have provided his predominantly young and female students with the tools to protect themselves from this kind of exploitation.

James Franco 17-year-old

According to Sarah Tither-Kaplan—one of the former students who filed a lawsuit against Franco and Rabbit Bandini—"I didn't know anything about nudity riders, the detail required in them, the right to counsel with the director about nude scenes, the custom to choreograph nude scenes ahead of time to negotiate them with the cast and the director — I knew none of that throughout that class."

And that is exactly the issue that intimacy coordinators are intended to rectify. They will function both as advocates who empower performers to assert their rights and "movement coaches" who assist in making sex scenes look believable while conforming to safety and ethics standards. The new guidelines SAG has released lay out necessary qualifications, and the role of intimacy coordinators in establishing plans for sex scenes—maintaining a closed set, utilizing appropriate "modesty garments," and establishing consent for every aspect of "intimate and hyper-exposed scenes"—and making sure those plans are adhered to all the way through a film's final cut.

Emilia Clarke was lucky to have a kind costar to encourage her to assert herself, but if a SAG-approved intimacy coordinator had been on hand, then any and all nudity would have been carefully agreed to, and she would most likely not have been subjected to the kind of coercion she experienced. Likewise, an intimacy coordinator could have protected a lot of women from James Franco's exploitative practices on set, and certainly would not have allowed him to remove two women's plastic genital guards in the midst of simulating oral sex.

The #MeToo movement has done a lot to expose the exploitation and assault that are an ingrained part of Hollywood's culture. But we can't continue to place the burden on survivors to call out predatory behavior after the fact. SAG's new guidelines are a clear and important step toward codifying practices to help prevent this kind of traumatic exploitation from occurring in the first place.


Chris R from Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" Is Running for Congress

Chris R may have lost to Johnny and Mark in The Room, but he can still win big in Texas.

While Tommy Wiseau's The Room, often considered the best bad movie of all time, might be technically terrible in almost every aspect, one actor's performance stood out from the rest as...almost maybe good?

In a scene so random that it feels baffling even within an already baffling movie, actor Dan Janjigian plays a drug dealer named Chris R who tries to shake down another bit character named Denny (or Danny?) for owed money. Chris R is only in that single scene, and Danny's drug addiction is never brought up again, but that doesn't stop Janjigian from making a meal out of his role. Janjigian's crazed intensity and the seriousness with which he seemed to approach a nothing role in a no-name movie was compelling enough that Zac Efron portrayed him in The Disaster Artist.

WORST acting ever [MUST WATCH!] The Room

Now, over 15 years after The Room, Dan Janjigian has taken on a new role, perhaps his biggest one yet: running for Congress. As it turns out, Janjigian is a man of many talents. On top of his iconic role as Chris R, Janjigian was also a Microsoft employee and an Olympic bobsledder. More recently, however, Janjigian has spent over a decade working in healthcare and raising a family in Texas.

Danjan congress

According to Janjigian's official campaign website, his experience as a healthcare professional and his family's history escaping the Armenian Genocide solidified his political beliefs. Currently running as a Democrat to represent Texas's 31st congressional district against Republican incumbent John Carter, Janjigian's platform revolves around enacting public healthcare (while allowing private options for those who choose it), streamlining legal immigration, and promoting clean energy solutions to battle climate change.

Best of all, Janjigian is running a grassroots campaign "PAID FOR BY A WHOLE LOT OF TEXANS SUPPORTING DANJAN," meaning that he's not beholden to big money or corporate interests, and possibly even that Danny finally paid him back.


The 5 Best TV Tributes to D&D

Including those incredible "Stranger Things" scenes.

With Halloween coming up, I thought it was time to revisit the phenomenon that was the first season of Stranger Things.

Three years ago it took over our entire culture for two weeks, and reintroduced the world to the wonders of Dungeons and Dragons. The first season is perfectly framed by the four young friend's passionate investment in an epic tabletop quest—informing their battle with the Demagorgon, their understanding of the Upside Down, and foreshadowing the events of season two in the finale. It was charming and fun, and many of us were sucked into a love affair with the endless possibilities of D&D. But then, in season three, Stranger Things betrayed us.

Suddenly, D&D wasn't a priority anymore! Just because everyone has girlfriends now, we're not supposed to immerse ourselves in an imaginary world of magic and wonder? Bullshit! Will is the only one who gets it, and he's dressed like a moron.

Will Byers, Dressed Like a Moron in Stranger Things Season 3 What are you wearing, Will?!

Luckily, there are other TV shows that have professed their love for D&D without turning their backs. So let's take a look at the best D&D tribute episodes in TV history.

Community: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

Troy Barnes, extolling the virtues of D&D

Community creator Dan Harmon loves Dungeons & Dragons so much that he has a show dedicated to animating D&D sessions. So when the study group gets together in the second season (the best one…) to help "Fat Neil" by playing the most epic D&D campaign in history, you can expect it to be legit. Everything from the LOTR voice-over opening, to Danny Pudi's earnest devotion to his DM duties, and Donald Glover's basic misunderstanding of the game—"Shouldn't there be a board, or pieces, or something to Jenga?"—is handled perfectly. And when Pierce's narcissism leads to the party splitting, and Neil losing his most prized magical items, the stakes suddenly become real, and the rest of the study group must use all their cunning and skill to save the day.

The episode is so good, Community actually did a follow up in season five—"Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons"—with David Cross reconnecting with Mike from Breaking Bad. Also worth a watch, and notable for not including Ken Jeong in drow-blackface.

Justin Trudeau

Freaks and Geeks: Discos and Dragons

James Franco, Before it Was Too Late

It's fitting that the series finale of the highly underrated Freaks and Geeks ends with one of TVs best tributes to D&D. The titular geeks are strong advocates and the game is helmed by possibly the greatest dungeon master in history, whose low affect air of authority lends necessary gravitas to the scene.

Best. DM. Ever.

The thrust of their session is the transformation of Daniel, played by James Franco, changing his alignment from Freak (effortlessly cool idiot) to geek (enthusiastic nerd). And isn't it fun to imagine a world in which someone interceded in time to prevent James Franco from becoming pure evil?

iZombie: Twenty Sided, Die

Clive Babineaux, Getting Into It

Another entry in the category of underrated shows showing love for D&D, iZombie is the story of Liv Moore (... get it?) a medical examiner who mixes drugs with energy drinks and gains the ability to absorb dead people's personalities and memories by eating their brains. Standard stuff. In Twenty Sided, Die, the corpse in question is a devoted dungeon master, and must play through a campaign with her friends in order to unlock the dead man's memories. Liv's fellow ME, Ravi Chakrabarti, is a reliable nerd, and dives right into the role playing with some solid accent work, but the real fun comes from the stoic Detective Babineaux, who begins the session with an eyeroll, and finishes on the edge of his seat, more invested than anyone. You love to see it, and the resulting fan art is choice.



Honorable Mention: Mazes and Monsters

Tom Hanks Beginning His Illustrious Career

While technically not a TV show, 1982's Mazes and Monsters deserves to be on this list both for giving Tom Hanks his first starring role, and for being the only TV movie to ever acknowledge the frightening power of tabletop role playing. Produced at the height of a panic over what D&D was doing to our children, M&M follows Robbie Wheeling, a stressed out student whose first exposure to role playing leads to a total psychotic break from reality. His friends must track his alter ego, Pardue the Holy Man through the bowels of New York City to save his life. The entire film is a masterpiece, available for free on YouTube, but you only need to see one scene, near the end, to know that Tom Hanks deserves at least four more Oscars.