James Franco Accusers Open Up: He's Not as Bad as Harvey Weinstein

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On Tuesday, the 2018 Academy Award nominations were announced, and the list of honorees contained several surprises.

For many industry insiders, the most noteworthy snub was that of James Franco.

James Franco Golden Globes Photo

Following wins at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, Franco was considered the frontrunner in the Best Actor category, and many were stunned when he didn't even receive a nomination.

Due to the secretive nature of the nomination process, we may never know exactly why he didn't receive more votes from his peers.

It's worth noting that the Academy is generally less accepting of comedies than other award-granting bodies, and controversy over filmmaker Tommy Wiseau whom Franco portrays in The Disaster Artist may have also been a factor.

But the consensus in Hollywood is that it was the sexual harassment allegations against Franco that caused Academy voters to balk at honoring the actor with a nomination.

As you may have heard, when Franco won the Golden Globe for Best Actor, actress Ally Sheedy posted several tweets suggesting that he behaved inappropriately while directing her in an Off-Broadway play.

James Franco at SNL 40

Shortly thereafter, several other women came forward to accuse Franco, eventually bringing the total number to five.

Yesterday, two of those women appeared on Good Morning America to discuss their experiences with Franco, 

Sarah Tither-Kaplan was a student in Franco's "Sex Scenes" acting class 

Violet Paley is a former girlfriend of Franco's who says she felt coerced into performing oral sex on her first date with the actor.

Both women opened up about their individual experiences in a remarkably candid interview:

“James abused his power by exploiting the non-celebrity women that he worked with under the guise of giving them opportunities," Tither-Kaplan said.

James Franco Red Carpet Image

She added that she felt pressured to perform nude while appearing in a film directed by Franco:

"There were a lot of scenes that were added after we were given the original scripts that I felt I wished I had more time to consider them or understand the artistic value of them...sex scenes, nude scenes, yes, a lot of the time they seemed gratuitous and exploitative.”

But while she maintained that Franco abused his power over young women, she also conceded that his misconduct is not nearly as egregious as that of disgraced studio head Harvey Weinstein.

“He's absolutely not a Harvey Weinstein," Tither-Kaplan said.

"He is not an unfeeling monster who has no sense of reality. He created exploitative environments for non-celebrity women on his sets and I also think James is a talented and valuable person."

Franco, James

Tither-Kaplan elaborated:

"It is a pyramid and at the top is rape and sexual violence and at the bottom are the other abuses of power that when they continue to happen over and over build and build and build and create a culture that allows the most heinous examples of sexual violence and misogyny and discrimination to happen and if we allow any of them, we’re allowing all of them."

For her part, Paley says her story is "complicated" by the fact that she later entered a relationship with Franco, but maintains that she was pressured into performing a sex act with which she didn't feel comfortable during one of their first interactions.

“I am regretful. I was young, he was a celebrity that I looked up to," Paley says.

Both women agreed that Franco is "not unforgivable," and made a simple request to the 39-year-old during their time on air:

"Please just apologize," Paley said, addressing Franco.

We'll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.

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