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James Franco: Will His Flirtation With Girl, 17, Hurt His Career?

Fri, April 4, 2014 4:49pm EDT by Sandra Clark 10 Comments

If James Franco intended to get lots of publicity for his upcoming movie ‘Palo Alto’, he certainly did so with his viral teenage flirtation on Instagram. But will the scandal damage his career rather than boost it? has spoken with some of the industry’s top image experts, who reveal how the award-winning actor can mend his compromised image.

Has James Franco‘s much-publicized attempt to hook up with a 17-year-old fan in an NYC hotel room cost him his career? Image expert Jacquie Jordan describes the actor’s actions as “a turn-off to his female fans,” but Howard Bragman, vice chairman of, knows exactly what the talented celeb can do to clean up his act. 

James Franco’s Teenage Flirtation — Did He Hurt His Career?

James’ questionable interaction with young Scottish fan Lucy Clode, 17, has landed the handsome thespian in some hot water. Can he save his career and get out of this scandalous mess unscathed?

“First off, we don’t even know if what happened with James Franco is the truth or a PR stunt because of his new movie Palo Alto coming out, which deals with a similar issue,” longtime public relations crisis expert Howard Bragman tells EXCLUSIVELY.

In Palo Alto, James plays a high school soccer coach who seduces one of his teenage players (Emma Roberts). The trailer for the film — which is based on James’ short story collection Palo Alto — was released on April 2, the same day his texts and pictures leaked, and some believe that’s not a coincidence.

“It feels kind of real to me. But this is not going to have any long-lasting impact on James’ image,” Howard says. “In crisis terms, this is a speed bump, not a sinkhole. There’s no lasting damage here, it will pass. James’ fans will be understanding and forgiving. He was concerned with when the girl was turning 18. He didn’t not try any coercion. He was very straightforward with his intentions.”

But celebrity image consultant Jacquie Jordan thinks the incident could lead James’ biggest fan base to abandon him — at least for now.

“I think it’s a turn-off to female fans,” Jacquie tells EXCLUSIVELY. “Especially if you read the actual text dialogue. It’s like, really? That’s how quickly you feel entitled to pick up a chick and sleep with her? It will definitely change the way I view him.”

“And yes, he’s right, social media changes the game for all of this,” Jacquie adds. “It’s now more transparent and either a higher level of CLASS needs to be applied, or a higher level of discretion.”

So what should James do or say from this moment on?

“If he wants to do any more damage control, he needs to just keep his mouth shut,” Jacquie advises.

However, Howard applauds the actor for his candid confession on Live with Kelly & Michael.

“He looked appropriately awkward and sheepish on Live with Kelly & Michael. It felt very authentic. He handled it well,” Howard says. “He apologized. He owned his sleaziness. There’s nothing else James needs to do. He did it. He put it behind him, and now he needs to just move on.”

James Franco: His Sort Of Apology On ‘Live With Kelly & Michael’

As previously reported, James went on national TV on April 4 to talk about his very public flirtation with Lucy.

“I’m embarrassed,” James told hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan. “I guess I’m just a model about how social media’s tricky. It’s a way people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned is you don’t know who’s on the other end. I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.”

What do YOU think, HollywoodLifers, did James really learn his lesson? Do YOU think his career can be saved? Let us know!

— Reporting by Sandra Clark

More James Franco News:

  1. James Franco’s Instagram Scandal: A Hoax To Promote New Film?
  2. Lucy Clode: See Pics Of James Franco’s 17-Year-Old Crush
  3. James Franco: Did He Try To Hook Up With A 17-Year-Old Fan?