Notice anything off about the cover of Vanity Fair‘s annual Hollywood issue? Oprah has three hands, Reese Witherspoon has three legs, and James Franco is nowhere in sight.
Chalk up the first two to sloppy Photoshop — which, really? How do mistakes like this happen at one of Conde Nast’s glossiest glossies for the issue pegged to the Oscars? — and the latter to the might of the #MeToo movement.
Franco, director and star of The Disaster Artist, was on the red-carpeted path to the Academy Awards, scooping up a Gotham Independent Film Award (best actor), a Golden Globe Award (best actor in a musical or comedy), and a Critics Choice Award (best actor in a comedy), when allegations, made by multiple women, that Franco sexually exploited them were amplified by an investigation in the L.A. Times.
As The Hollywood Reporter tells it, Franco was originally supposed to be a part of the glitzy spread, alongside Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Jessica Chastain, Michael B. Jordan, Claire Foy, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Zendaya, Michael Shannon, Gal Gadot, and retiring Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. But he was “scrubbed” from the page:
According to multiple sources familiar with the shoot, James Franco sat for a photo shoot and interview and was to be featured in the magazine’s Annie Leibovitz-shot portfolio. He was removed from the cover digitally.
Since these covers are already the product of digital cutting-and-pasting (hence the extra limbs on Winfrey and Witherspoon), the edit didn’t call for a reshoot.
A Vanity Fair rep confirmed THR‘s story through a spokesperson: “We made a decision not to include James Franco on the Hollywood cover once we learned of the misconduct allegations against him.”
Franco fell from favorite to pariah in just one week, a swift reversal of fortune that would have seemed unfathomable just a year ago, when allegations of a similar variety — sexually manipulative and inappropriate behavior with female colleagues and subordinates on a film set — were easily batted away by Casey Affleck, who went on to win best actor at the Oscars for his performance in Manchester by the Sea.
Speaking of Affleck, it is tradition for the previous year’s best actor to present the Oscar for best actress (and vice versa). But the masses have been calling for Affleck’s dismissal from the podium — or at least calling out the hypocrisy of a sea of “Time’s Up” pins worn at an event willing to grant Affleck such prime billing — since October, when mega-producer and serial sexual predator Harvey Weinstein was booted from the Academy. As John Oliver put it as the kicker in his rant about sexual abuse in Hollywood, “Congratulations, Hollywood. See you at the next Oscars, where—and this is true—Casey Affleck will be presenting best actress.”
On Thursday, Deadline reported that Affleck had withdrawn from presenting the best actress award at the Oscars.
He has notified the Academy he will not be attending the event, sources said. I’ve heard that Affleck did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category and that is why he made the proactive move. He was in a no-win situation, with all the attention surrounding the #MeToo movement. The specter of Affleck presenting would have created controversy.
This is an interesting and not-entirely-accurate turn of phrase by Deadline — can you call it a “no-win” situation when the man is literally an Oscar winner, which is why he was supposed to have this gig in the first place? But if Affleck hadn’t bowed out on his own volition, it seems almost certain that he could have attended if he wanted to: He’s the reigning best actor, and, at least for now, a member of the academy in good standing.
To date, the academy has only exiled two people from its ranks: Weinstein, and Godfather actor Carmine Caridi, who was banished in 2004 “for sharing promotional copies of films that were later pirated.” Affleck’s status in the academy seems safe for now, considering other members include Roman Polanski, a convicted rapist who still won best director and best picture for The Pianist in 2003, and Bill Cosby, who is awaiting his criminal retrial (he was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault) and has been accused by nearly 60 women of committing acts of sexual violence.
Deadline also says that “Affleck’s hope is to put the focus back on [the best actress nominees] performances,” which, again, reads as awfully generous; more likely his hope is that he can keep a low enough profile to emerge from the #MeToo reckoning largely unscathed and remain in the phalanx of men who can proudly proclaim themselves “not as bad as Harvey Weinstein,” and thus continue his career apace. No word yet on who will present best actress in his stead.