James Franco skips UCLA speech for film

Movie star and UCLA alumnus James Franco has withdrawn from a big real-life role at his alma mater in Westwood.

Franco will not be able to deliver the commencement speech he was supposed to give June 12 to UCLA's College of Letters and Science graduates, officials announced.

"I deeply regret not being able to keep my commitment to giving the commencement speech at UCLA's graduation this year," Franco said in a prepared statement provided to the university. "Unfortunately, the date conflicts with me needing to be on location to begin pre-production on my next film. I wish everyone in the 2009 class the best of luck in all of their future endeavors."

Franco, known for his roles in "Milk," "Pineapple Express" and " Spider-Man," attended UCLA for a year beginning in 1996 but left to pursue his acting career. He returned 10 years later to earn his bachelor's degree in creative writing in 2008.

UCLA College of Letters and Science officials were reaching out to alternate speakers based on recommendations from a selection committee, but no substitute has been confirmed yet, a campus representative said.

Other big-name speakers are scheduled for various UCLA graduation ceremonies June 12. Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post, is to speak at the School of Public Affairs commencement, and film director Oliver Stone is set to speak to the School of Theater, Film and Television.


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