James Franco cancels UB Distinguished Speaker Series lecture

Brandon Stanton, ‘Humans of New York’ creator to replace Franco


James Franco will no longer be speaking at UB for the 30th annual Distinguished Speaker Series due to a “professional conflict.”

Brandon Stanton, ‘Humans of New York’ creator will be the featured speaker instead on April 29 in Alumni Arena at 8 p.m. More than 4,000 students along with members of the UB community were expected to attend Franco’s lecture. Many students are disappointed in Franco's cancellation while others are excited to see Stanton speak. 

SA president Matthew Rivera said he heard the news a few days ago, but officially confirmed Franco’s cancellation today. He said Stanton was SA’s original second speaker choice.

Franco's team didn't specify the conflict, but stated the force majeure clause from Franco's contract. The clause allows a party to suspend or cancel a performance when circumstances arise, such as projects and filming schedules. 

“Since Franco was the Student Choice speaker, we were consulted on replacements and worked with them for the last week and a half, on trying to figure out a person that was available that would also be appealing to the same James Franco audience that we had,” said Marc Rosenblitt, SA entertainment coordinator.

Students who have already reserved tickets for Franco can keep their tickets to see Stanton.

"Brandon Stanton, having as much of a social media background and impact, we thought it would be appealing to everybody who had already signed up for James Franco," Rosenblitt said.

Some students are disappointed in Franco's cancellation and said they are less likely to attend Stanton's lecture.

"I'm pretty disappointed that James Franco won’t be here in attendance at UB," said Tom Apa, a junior marketing major. "I followed Franco's work for a while now, he’s a very versatile actor, and I would have loved to have a motivational speech by him and be in attendance for it."

James Guity, a sophomore computer science major is also disappointed and thinks it's a "shame" Franco cancelled.

Other students are excited to see Stanton speak.

"At first I was annoyed, but when I found out it was Brandon Stanton coming instead I think he’s just as good," said Mackenzie Martinelli, a freshman undecided major. "I love "Humans of New York though," so [SA] found a good replacement for him, so I’m fine with that."

Tickets will be distributed in the Student Union Social Hall on Friday, April 21 at 10 a.m.

Allison Staebell contributed reporting to this story. 

David Tunis-Garcia is a co-senior arts editor and can be reached at david.garcia@ubspectrum.com