James Franco Was Scrubbed From Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue Cover

"We made a decision not to include James Franco on the Hollywood cover once we learned of the misconduct allegations against him," a 'Vanity Fair' spokesperson said.
Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Vanity Fair debuted its anticipated Hollywood Portfolio today, and on the magazine’s website the headline read, in part, “12 Extraordinary Stars, One Momentous Year.” There was meant to be another star on the coveted cover spread, but he did not make the final cut due to the momentous year’s most powerful movement, the Hollywood Reporter has learned.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, however, due to allegations of sexual misconduct that surfaced in the wake of his Golden Globe win for The Disaster Artist. Subjects for the Vanity Fair cover are often photographed separately in small groups and combined via digital imaging — Franco’s removal, then, did not require a reshoot. That said, it’s highly unusual for a star to be removed from an elaborate photo layout, especially so close to publication.

A Vanity Fair spokesperson confirmed the news to THR early Thursday evening. “We made a decision not to include James Franco on the Hollywood cover once we learned of the misconduct allegations against him,” the spokesperson said.

A rep for Franco did not respond to THR’s request for comment.

It’s unclear when the final decision was made, but it likely was a sprint to the presses as the allegations surfaced only days after the Globes, in a Los Angeles Times report published Jan. 11. The story cited five women who accused Franco “of behavior they found to be inappropriate or sexually exploitative.” Some of those women first came forward with accusations on social media.

Franco has denied the claims. During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he said, “I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done. I have to do that to maintain my well-being. I do it whenever I know that there is something wrong or needs to be changed. I make it a point to do it. The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So I don’t want to shut them down in any way. It’s, I think, a good thing, and I support it.”

The photo shoot has been in the works for months, with some of the shoots taking place in November. Featured — left to right — are Oprah Winfrey, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks, Michael B. Jordan, Zendaya, Jessica Chastain, Claire Foy, Michael Shannon, Harrison Ford, Gal Gadot, VF editor-in-chief Graydon Carter and Robert De Niro.

It was legendary editor Carter’s last “V.F. hurrah,” the mag writes, and his last Hollywood spread before he exits the magazine in a move announced last fall. (Radhika Jones took over the top post.) Carter launched the Hollywood Issue more than 20 years ago, so this particular installment is historic for that reason, but it’s also pointed out in an accompanying article what the #MeToo movement has to do with this year’s roster of talent. “The films and TV shows represented by the actors in this year’s Hollywood Portfolio — which for the first time offers a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot — took the #MeToo movement in stride, offering strong women in leading roles, as well as strong men supporting them,” reads the article.

“The triple-panel cover started because I wasn’t sure that one actor could carry the idea of all of Hollywood,” Carter says in a behind-the-scenes video. “You needed a cast of actors and actresses to tell that period in Hollywood.”

Meanwhile, the issue has been a subject of debate online today, as readers quickly pointed out perceived Photoshop fails, one featuring Reese Witherspoon and her three legs, and another with Winfrey and three hands, the latter of which was featured in a behind-the-scenes image.

Vanity Fair tweeted that the extra Winfrey hand was a mistake, while the extra leg was the lining from inside Witherspoon’s dress.

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