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James Franco series on USC stirs controversy

January 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The University of Southern California is an institution of higher learning considered one of the top 25 universities in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Or is it?

A new web series hitting the Internet this week may give people a different impression of USC.

"Undergrads" is the work of actor and sometimes USC student James Franco. The show can be found on jamesfrancotv.com.

"It was just about partying and drinking and a lot of drama and relationships, and that's not what all of USC is about," said USC student Jennie Lok.

The promo for "Undergrads" shows little studying, but plenty of drinking and less than savory behavior. USC students admit such scenes can be found on and around their campus, but no more so than other schools.

"That's not how I want to be portrayed and I'm not like that, but I thought it was interesting," said student Michelle Lorenzi.

USC officials were quick to distance the school from the show, neither endorsing nor authorizing it.

In a written statement, USC's vice president of student affairs Michael L. Jackson wrote: "More accurately representative of USC are the students who provide hundreds of hours in community service, who rank among the country's most academically and artistically gifted, and who value diversity in cultures, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds among their peers."

In the meantime, the show's executive producer Vince Jolivette issued a statement saying "Undergrads" is not a reality show.

"'Undergrads' is a narrative scripted show about undergraduate life across the country, not just at USC," he said.

But the preponderance of USC colors and garb may be enough to spook some parents, who are paying well north of $50,000 a year to send their kids here.

"My parents know what USC is like. They're fine with it. As long as I stay out of trouble its fine," said student James Kim.