Award Watch 2011 :: James Franco - Naked with Jake
Our favorite Oscar nominee and soon to be (we hope) favorite Oscar host (okay, co-host) James Franco has been all over the New York Times Carpetbagger web page the past few days, so much so that our our gaydar went into go into high alert - do we have a sister over at old gray lady?
Franco name first turned up in an interview with film director Adam Shankman (Hairspray), who is producing this year's Oscars as he did last year. When asked if he had anything to do with the hiring of Franco and Anne Hathaway as the hosts, he said he didn't, but was fascinated by it.
"They are both really, really smart people. I know after last year's show there was some talk about, is it the right thing to do to try to play to the younger audience, at the possible risk of alienating your core, which is an older demographic? But clearly they're trying to court it" - the younger crowd - "now."
Then asked if he had any ideas as what he would have them do, he said: "I think she should come out with one arm, and he could be naked, holding Jake Gyllenhaal's hand. That's the way to open that show."
Taking a chance with Chance
If that gay vision wasn’t enough, it was reported in today’s Times (and everywhere on the web) that Franco is headed to Broadway to co-star with Nicole Kidman in a revival of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth. Franco met twice last month with the production’s director David Cromer (who staged the acclaimed off-Broadway production of Our Town) to discuss the possibility. While no contracts have been signed, Cromer believes that it will happen.
"We’re still in talks with James, but he seems like a really decisive guy, so given that he’s saying he wants to do the play, I think he’ll do it," Mr. Cromer told the Times.
The pair spoke at length about the play and the character - Chance Wayne - Franco plans to play.
"Very rarely do you find an actor who can really take on the varied complications of this character, which is one of those virtually uncastable Williams parts," Mr. Cromer said. "Chance has to be a moron and a poet, and he also has to be fantastically great looking. It’s one of my favorite plays, but it’s such a mountain, and James and I were in total agreement that the production had to be about the play rather than making it about us. If all of this is about movie stars doing a play, then we should be doing an easier play."
In the play Chance is a gigolo to a has-been movie star Alexandra Del Lago. He brings her to the Southern town where he grew up to settle a score with the father of his former girlfriend who drove him out of town years before.
Taking the role in the play, first produced win 1959 with Paul Newman as Chance, seems a logical extension of Franco recent work (excepting his Oscar-nominated turn in 127 Hours). Last summer he played Williams’ contemporary Allen Ginsberg in How1 and will soon be seen playing poet Hart Crane - Williams idol - in The Broken Tower.
Teach me tonight
Then in a third item, Franco is said to be set to teach a course about himself, using footage of himself.
"Coming this quarter to Columbia College Hollywood is "Master Class: Editing James Franco ... With James Franco," in which Mr. Franco will supply footage of himself for a dozen students to edit into minidocumentaries - about him, of course," the Carpetbagger reported. "The class will be taught weekly by his longtime associate and editor, Tyler Danna, but Mr. Franco will check in via Skype and in person when his schedule allows. Mr. Danna and Mr. Franco will also tape the class for a final project and another level of self-reflexive commentary."