Author Topic: The James Franco Project Continues:What It’s Like To Be James Franco’s Professor  (Read 47520 times)

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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http://nymag.com/movies/profiles/67284/

The James Franco Project
Movie star, conceptual artist, fiction writer, grad student, cipher—he’s turned a Hollywood
career into an elaborate piece of performance art. But does it mean anything?
A critical investigation, with bathroom break.


By Sam Anderson
Published Jul 25, 2010



Illustration by Gluekit  
(Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

1. The Wink

“Franco is here. And he is seriously good looking, but very weird.”
“Weird how?”

—Maxie and Lulu, General Hospital,  November 23, 2009

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J ames Franco will not stop bouncing around. We’re standing on the sixth floor of a building at NYU, in the Department of Cinema Studies, outside a small theater. He’s wearing a standard grad-student uniform: washed-out jeans, charcoal sweater, gray sneakers, messy hair. His face—the face whose sculpted smoothness has won him countless film roles, and a Gucci endorsement, and daily floods of heartsick prose poetry on Internet comment boards—has been abducted by a mildly disturbing mustache. (He had to grow it for a role, he says.) We’ve just finished listening to a lecture by the performance artist Marina Abramovic—a talk Franco introduced with a charming but rambling overview of Abramovic’s career: the time she screamed herself hoarse, the time she took medication to give herself seizures, the time she cut her own hand with a knife, the time she ate an entire raw onion. It’s unclear whether people have come tonight to see Abramovic or Franco or just the symbiotic fusion of the two—this rare public marriage of Hollywood and art-world stars.

The crowd has dispersed now, and Franco is out here in the lobby bouncing around, weirdly, like a boxer before a fight, hopping back and forth, telling me about how stressed he is. He’s just flown back from Berlin this afternoon, he says, and he has a 35-page paper due tomorrow. Next weekend he has to shoot a student film, because in two weeks he’ll be flying out to Salt Lake City to start acting in a movie called 127 Hours,  director Danny Boyle’s follow-up to Slumdog Millionaire,  in which Franco will play a hiker who gets pinned by a boulder and has to amputate his own arm. Revisions are due soon on his book of short stories, which will be published in October by Scribner. He’s trying to nail down the details of an art show that will be based, somehow, on his recent performance on the soap opera General Hospital.  Also, he has class every day, which—since he’s enrolled in four graduate programs at once—requires commuting among Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, Morningside Heights, and occasionally North Carolina. He looks exhausted; it occurs to me that maybe he’s bouncing around to keep himself awake.

After a few minutes, Franco apologizes for his hopping and says he really just desperately needs to urinate. He keeps talking about his work as we walk down the hall—most of his student films, he tells me, have been adaptations of poems—and then he talks about it some more as he enters the bathroom. His voice takes on the ring of institutional porcelain and tile. His next film, he says, will be based on Spencer Reece’s poem “The Clerk’s Tale,” a dramatic monologue by a man who works in a mall. Franco is still talking about all of this as he starts to urinate, matter-of-factly, into a urinal—a process that goes on for an extremely long time. (He’s a compulsive drinker of Starbucks coffee, and Abramovic talked for well over an hour.) He’ll be filming at an actual mall in Queens next weekend, he says, still urinating, and the movie will star the performance artist John Kelly, who’s best known for appearing onstage, in drag, as Joni Mitchell. As I stand behind Franco, here in the tiny bathroom, taking notes, I feel a strange little thrill of low-grade intimacy—equal parts discomfort, amusement, affection, and an excitement whose source I can’t quite trace.

Franco washes his hands, and we head back out to the lobby, where he’s met by a small group that’s been milling around—it’s hard to tell if it’s an entourage or just a few lingering friends and classmates, a Hollywood thing or a student thing. Before he turns to walk away, Franco does something surprising: He winks at me. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. As he and Abramovic walk off together toward the elevators, my mind starts to run through all the possible interpretations. Was it a cheesy Hollywood-schmoozer wink, meant to charm and titillate me—the equivalent of a personalized James Franco autograph on our conversation? Or was it sincere, a gesture of goodwill and openhearted, rakish, devil-may-care bonhomie? (Is a sincere wink even possible, here in the cinema-studies department at NYU, in the year 2010?) Was it ironic—a wink set in quotation marks? Was he making fun of me, and of himself, and of the whole vexed transaction of celebrity journalism? Was he flirting with me, or metaflirting—making a sly reference to all the gay rumors swirling around him, and to our strange homosocial trip to the bathroom together?

In the hours after our brief meeting, and then in the months that followed, I would come to believe that everything important about Franco and his career could be derived from that mystifying wink. The only problem was that I had no idea, really none at all, what he meant by it.



Next: The fairly normal beginnings of his career.




Illustrations by Dienstelle 75  
(Photo: From left, Stewart Cook/Rex USA/BEI Images; TMZ)



2. The Everything-ist

“Believe what you want. But here’s a clue. The secret to life: Anyone can die at any time.”
“So what do we do about it?”
“Amuse ourselves. Don’t live by rules or boundaries. And take what you want, when you want.”

—Franco and Maxie, General Hospital, November 24, 2009

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Not so long ago, James Franco’s life and career were fairly normal. He grew up in Palo Alto, California, where his parents had met as Stanford students. Young James was, at his father’s urging, a math whiz—he even got an internship at Lockheed Martin. As a teenager, he rebelled, got in trouble with the law (drinking, shoplifting, graffiti), and eventually migrated toward the arts. His hero was Faulkner. He fell in love with acting when he played the lead in a couple of dark and heavy high-school plays. After freshman year, he dropped out of UCLA, very much against his parents’ wishes, to try to make a career of it. He was good, lucky, and driven, and within a couple of years, he got his first big break: Judd Apatow cast him in what would become the cult TV series Freaks and Geeks.  When the series was canceled after just a season, Franco landed the lead in the TNT biopic James Dean. He played the part with a slumping intensity that seemed like a reasonable replication of the real thing—or at least much closer than anyone had a right to expect from a TNT biopic—and the performance won a Golden Globe. Soon after, he was cast as Robert De Niro’s drug-addicted son in the film City by the Sea.  That same year, he entered mainstream consciousness as Peter Parker’s best friend in Spider-Man.

Franco had become, in other words, a working Hollywood actor. An unusual actor—he overprepared for minor roles, read Dostoyevsky and Proust between takes, and occasionally drove colleagues crazy with his intensity—but still identifiably an actor, with an actor’s career. As he climbed toward leading-man status, however, Franco had a crisis of faith. He found himself cast in a string of mediocre films—Annapolis, Flyboys, Tristan + Isolde —most of which bombed. He felt like he was funneling all his effort into glossy, big-budget entertainment over which he had no control, and of which he wasn’t proud.

At age 28, ten years after dropping out, Franco decided to go back to college. He enrolled in a couple of UCLA extension courses (literature, creative writing) and found them so magically satisfying—so safe and pure compared with the world of acting—that he threw himself back into his education with crazy abandon. He persuaded his advisers to let him exceed the maximum course load, then proceeded to take 62 credits a quarter, roughly three times the normal limit. When he had to work—to fly to San Francisco, for instance, to film Milk —he’d ask classmates to record lectures for him, then listen to them at night in his trailer. He graduated in two years with a degree in English and a GPA over 3.5. He wrote a novel as his honors thesis.

It was interesting timing. As soon as Franco decided his Hollywood career wasn’t enough, his Hollywood career exploded—which meant that his intellectual pursuits got picked up on the radar of the A-list Hollywood publicity machine. Which was, of course, baffled by all of it. Plenty of actors dabble in side projects—rock bands, horse racing, college, veganism—but none of them, and maybe no one else in the history of anything, anywhere, seems to approach extracurricular activities with the ferocity of Franco.

Take, for instance, graduate school. As soon as Franco finished at UCLA, he moved to New York and enrolled in four of them: NYU for filmmaking, Columbia for fiction writing, Brooklyn College for fiction writing, and—just for good measure—a low-residency poetry program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. This fall, at 32, before he’s even done with all of these, he’ll be starting at Yale, for a Ph.D. in English, and also at the Rhode Island School of Design. After which, obviously, he will become president of the United Nations, train a flock of African gray parrots to perform free colonoscopies in the developing world, and launch himself into space in order to explain the human heart to aliens living at the pulsing core of interstellar quasars.

Franco says all of his pursuits are possible, at least in part, because he’s cut down on his acting, but he’s still doing plenty of that. In the next year or so, he’ll be appearing in the films Eat, Pray, Love  (as Julia Roberts’s boyfriend), Howl (as Allen Ginsberg), 127 Hours  (as the one-armed hiker), Your Highness  (a medieval comedy), William Vincent  (an indie film by one of his NYU professors), Maladies  (put out by his own production company), and Rise of the Apes  (a prequel to Planet of the Apes ). And of course there’s his epically weird stint on General Hospital —the crown jewel in the current science project of his career.

All of which raises a small army of questions:

(1) Can James Franco possibly be for real?

(2) If he is, then—just logistically—how is all this possible?

(3) And perhaps the biggest mystery of all: Why is Franco doing it? Are his motives honest or dishonest? Neurotic or healthy? Arrogant or humble? Ironic or sincere? Naïve or sophisticated? Should we reward him with our attention or punish him with our contempt? Is he genuinely trying to improve himself or is he just messing with us—using celebrity itself as the raw material for some kind of public prank?




Next: His superhuman ability to focus.




Illustrations by Dienstelle 75  
(Photo: Courtesy of Scribner/Simon + Schuster (Book))



3. Logistics

“You are so full of crap.”
“You keep saying that.”

—Franco and Maxie, General Hospital, November 24, 2009


“I’m not like everyone else—remember that.”

—Franco, General Hospital,  December 11, 2009

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It’s hard not to be a little skeptical. Anyone who’s ever been to grad school will tell you that a single high-level program is pretty much crippling. Not to mention that topflight programs like Yale’s are designed to “professionalize” students, shearing away all of their outside interests and hobbies. Some professors frown on students having relationships, much less other careers—much less twelve of them. So while Franco’s adventure in overeducation might seem, from a distance, admirable, or at least lovably naïve, it also seems basically impossible. This skepticism was bolstered last year when a photo circulated online showing Franco sitting in class at Columbia, his head tilted back, dead asleep. The photo’s unspoken message was that the cynics were probably right: Franco’s pretty smile had given him a free pass to cultural realms the rest of us have to work our whole lumpy-faced lives just to get an outside shot at. He wasn’t so much attending grad school as he was endorsing it: lending these programs his celebrity in exchange for easy intellectual cred.

Franco’s professors, classmates, and colleagues insist, however, that this is not the case. According to everyone I spoke with, Franco has an unusually high metabolism for productivity. He seems to suffer, or to benefit, from the opposite of ADHD: a superhuman ability to focus that allows him to shuttle quickly between projects and to read happily in the midst of chaos. He hates wasting time—a category that includes, for him, sleeping. (He’ll get a few hours a night, then survive on catnaps, which he can fall into at any second, sometimes even in the middle of a conversation.) He doesn’t drink or smoke or—despite his convincingness in Pineapple Express —do drugs. He’s engineered his life so he can spend all his time either making or learning about art. When I asked people if Franco actually does all of his own homework, some of them literally laughed right out loud at me, because apparently homework is all James Franco ever really wants to do. The photo of him sleeping in class, according to his assistant, wasn’t even from one of his classes: It was an extra lecture he was sitting in on, after a full day of work and school, because he wanted to hear the speaker.

Vince Jolivette, Franco’s roommate and general right-hand man (he runs Franco’s production company and plays bit parts in many of his films), met Franco in acting class in 1996. “Our teacher made us rehearse at least once a day outside of class,” he told me. “James would get eight or nine rehearsals. Everyone else would do, at most, one. If we didn’t rehearse, or if I had to cancel, he’d be pissed.”

John Tintori, chair of NYU’s filmmaking program, told me that Franco convinced him of his sincerity in the entrance interview. “He was an hour early. He just sat outside my office waiting. In the interview, the two faculty members who were with me were skeptical and really held his feet to the fire. He said, ‘I am not going to be the guy who’s not pulling his weight.’ And he isn’t. In fact, he’s loading up and doing extra credit. Normally, we’re a three-year program. My guess is he’ll probably finish in two and a half years. A few months ago, he said, ‘I really like it here. Is it okay, after I finish all my requirements—can I keep taking classes?’ I’m looking into that, because I don’t know if it’s allowed.”

According to his mother, Betsy, Franco has been this way since he was born. In kindergarten, he wouldn’t just build regular little block towers—he’d build structures that used every single block in the playroom. At night, he would organize his Star Wars  toys before he slept. When Franco was 4 years old, a friend of the family died. Betsy gave him the standard Mortality Talk: no longer with us, just a part of life—yes, but hopefully not for a very long time.  Little James burst into tears.  He was inconsolable. Eventually, he managed to choke out, between sobs, “But I don’t want to die! I have so much to do!”



Next: How his assistant gets him through the day.




Illustrations by Dienstelle 75  
(Photo: From left, Patrick McMullan; Courtesy of ABC)



This is, no doubt, mildly insane, even if it’s a form of insanity many of us might want to have.

One of Franco’s most serious productivity advantages is his personal assistant, Dana Morgan. “I tease him when people say, ‘How do you do it?’ ” she tells me. “ ‘You don’t! You do all the things they know about, but you don’t do the normal human-being things.’ ”

Morgan, a former UCLA classmate of Franco’s, manages his minute-to-minute existence: makes sure he wakes up, gets dressed, eats. “I guarantee you he would not eat unless I fed him,” she says. “He’ll do the hand-to-mouth part, but I definitely bring it to his hands. It’s not that he’s helpless. It’s just that he would not take the time to find food. He has the luxury of not having to worry about it.”

Despite the hired help, Morgan tells me, Franco’s hyperproductive life is not always easy. “He definitely gets overwhelmed at times. Sometimes we’ll look at each other, and it’s been 36 hours since either of us has closed our eyes, and he’s switched from decaf to regular, and we’re on a train or a plane or a car and he’ll go, ‘What am I doing? What’s going on?’ But then it’s like: ‘Well, we’re making things happen the way you want.’ ”



4. The After-Party

“The camera never lies. Except it always does.”

—Franco, General Hospital,  July 7, 2010  

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J ames Franco's homework has had an incredible year. Short stories he worked on at Columbia and Brooklyn College were published in Esquire and McSweeney’s. His NYU student films—including the artsy adaptations of poetry he was telling me about in the bathroom—graced all the major film festivals. His documentary Saturday Night, which began life as a seven-minute NYU assignment, blossomed—thanks to unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to SNL (a show Franco has hosted twice)—into a full-length feature.

The next time I see Franco is at the Tribeca Film Festival, at an after-party for Saturday Night.  The party is sponsored by Polaroid, which is using the occasion to promote its new Polaroid 300 camera so aggressively it feels almost like a satire of publicity: Everyone is taking photos, or photos of photos, or video of photographers taking photos of photos. It’s like Andy Warhol has thrown a surprise party for a Don DeLillo novel.

Over the course of the party, Franco stands mainly right near the front door, creating a bulge of admirers that makes it hard to get in and out of the building. He looks, tonight, not like a grad student but like a swashbuckling young Hollywood leading man: He’s wearing jeans and a brown leather jacket; his sketchy mustache has been normalized by the addition of a goatee; his hair is curly and wild. His job here at the party seems to be to make chitchat—to spread the limited resource of his attention affably across hundreds of targets, never locking in for more than a few minutes at a time, but also never making anyone feel slighted.

Partygoers approach and compliment him, exchange pleasantries with him, take cell-phone pictures of him. He talks to his agent, to his NYU classmates, to the TV critic of the New York Post.  Midway through the party, I manage to break into the golden orb of Franco’s attentional sphere. We talk about his latest projects, and he can’t resist making a prediction.

“The new critique you’re gonna start hearing about James Franco,” says James Franco, “is ‘He’s spreading himself too thin.’ ”

I tell him I’ve already heard that critique many times.

“But what does that even mean?” he asks. He seems impatient, genuinely baffled. “Spreading himself too thin?”

Well, I say, isn’t it a reasonable concern? How many targets can one person’s brain realistically hit with any kind of accuracy?

“If the work is good,” Franco says, “what does it matter? I’m doing it because I love it. Why not do as many things I love as I can? As long as the work is good.”

Soon he gets whisked away to a back room to have his portrait taken, in Polaroids, over and over by someone a company rep keeps calling “a real artist.” Franco sits in a kind of Thinker  pose, with his face resting on the tripod of his fingers. At the end of the session, the real artist tapes all of his portraits together into one big collage of fractured Franco.



5. The Adolescent

“The best art is understood by the fewest number of people.”
“Okay. Well, you’re incredibly popular. Does that mean you’re not good?”
“I’m good.”

—Franco and Maxie, General Hospital, November 23, 2009


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The critic Kenneth Tynan once wrote about Orson Welles, history’s archetypal writer-actor-director, “Orson is the man who tried it all: And every time he tried a medium, it capitulated.” The same cannot be said, as of yet, for Franco. Artistic media don’t seem to capitulate to him. They struggle against him, making him earn every modest inch of success. Watching that struggle is fascinating and a big part of Franco’s appeal: He’s not a savant or an obvious genius—he’s someone of mortal abilities who seems to be working immortally hard. Outside of acting—at which he is, by all accounts, very good and sometimes excellent—Franco’s work gives off a student-y vibe. It exudes effort. His directing is daring but often heavy-handed. His fiction reads like promising work from a writing seminar—not a student whose success you’d guarantee but someone you could see eventually getting there. (When Franco’s story “Just Before the Black” was published in Esquire,  it set off a huge online hullabaloo of negativity. Salon  called it a “crush killer.” One writer tweeted that “Franco makes Ethan Hawke seem like Herman Melville.”) Still, Franco grades well on a curve. He’s an excellent writer, for an actor. He’s brilliant, for a heartthrob. But he has yet to produce art that’s good enough to break the huge gravitational pull of his fame and fly off on its own merits.


Next: His main artistic obsession and why it seems appropriate.




Illustrations by Dienstelle 75  


Franco’s main artistic obsession—the subject that echoes across all of his various media—is adolescence. This seems appropriate on several levels. His own adolescence was unusually formative: It turned him from an obedient young math prodigy into a turbocharged art fanatic. His defining characteristic, as an actor, is an engaging restlessness—adolescence personified. In fact, you could say that Franco’s entire career is suspended, right now, in a kind of artistic adolescence. We’re watching him transition, a little awkwardly, from one creature (the Hollywood-dependent star) to another (the self-actualized, multiplatform artist). Like real adolescence, it’s a propulsive phase in which energy exceeds control. It’s about extremes—the hysteria to distinguish oneself, to break the rules, to leap into the world and do impossible things. Franco is developing all kinds of new strengths, but at the cost of some of his dignity: His intellectual skin is a little spotty, his artistic legs are suddenly too long for the rest of his body.

It’s the kind of ragged transition that most actors pay good money to have smoothed over by publicity teams. Yet Franco is making a spectacle of it. Which is, in a way, brave. One of the central points of Franco’s art and career, as I read them, is that adolescence isn’t something we should look away from, a shameful churning of dirty hormones. It’s the crucible of our identity, the answer to everything that comes later, and we need to look long and hard at it, no matter how gross or painful it might sometimes feel.



6. A Queer Career

“You’re priceless. I should take you to my apartment and put you on my mantel—you can be your own little work of art.”
“Oh, yeah, you think people would pay money for me?”
“Oh, yeah, Mr. Franco. I know quite a few women who would be happy to keep you occupied.”
“For a while. And then what?”

—Maxie and Franco, General Hospital, November 24, 2009

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One defining characteristic of adolescence is, of course, our emergence into the world as sexual beings. In this sense, too, Franco seems to be living an extended public adolescence. Many people are obsessed—and Franco has given them ample reason to be—with the question of whether he’s gay or straight. For a Hollywood heartthrob, he’s been unusually drawn to gay or bisexual roles: Allen Ginsberg, James Dean, Harvey Milk’s long-term boyfriend Scott Smith. Even seemingly straight roles—e.g., the pot dealer in Pineapple Express —end up bursting, in Franco’s hands, with homoerotic energy.

Although Franco has been silent on this subject, he seems to enjoy stoking the controversy. His art, across the spectrum, revels in gay culture. His student film The Feast of Stephen  involves an extended fantasy scene in which a group of teenage boys gang-rape another boy—who then smiles meaningfully at the camera as the screen goes dark. (An intimate screening of the film was sponsored, last summer, by Butt  magazine.) The narrator of Franco’s Esquire  short story asks a friend: “Don’t you ever get jealous of those girls in pornos that get to be on their knees in the middle of all those dicks?” Franco researched his role for the 2002 film Sonny  by hanging out at gay strip clubs in New Orleans, and even tagged along with a stripper as he serviced a male client in a hotel room. In a guest spot on 30 Rock,  he played a version of himself whose sexual obsession with a Japanese body pillow is an open public secret—a perfect allegory for his alleged homosexuality.

When Franco mentioned to me, via e-mail, that he was leaning toward going to Yale for his Ph.D., the faculty member he singled out was Michael Warner. Warner happens to be one of the pioneers of queer theory, a school of thought born in the early nineties (just as Franco was hitting adolescence) that argues that sexuality is not a trivial, personal matter but fundamental to how we all experience the world. “Queer,” in this sense, transcends the simplistic binary of gay versus straight. As Warner puts it in his canonical anthology Fear of a Queer Planet,  queer defines itself “against the normal rather than the heterosexual.” Thinking about sexuality—particularly exposing the assumptions embedded in heteronormative culture—is a form of radical social critique, a way to challenge arbitrary boundaries and institutions.

Which is, of course, basically a description of Franco’s current career: He’s systematically challenging mass-cultural norms. Franco, you might say, is queering celebrity: erasing the border not just between gay and straight but between actor and artist, heartthrob and intellectual, junk TV and art museum. His obvious relish for gay roles challenges the default heterosexuality of Hollywood leading men like Clooney or Pitt. He seems more interested in fluidity, in every sense, than in a fixed identity. As a commenter on the website Queerty  put it: “He’s the World’s Gayest Heterosexual!” But he’s also the world’s most heterosexual gay, the world’s highest lowbrow, and the world’s most ironic earnest guy. It is also possible that he’s just engaged in the world’s most public, and confused, coming-out process.



Next: What his girlfriend thinks about his work and reputation.



Given all of this, “James Franco’s girlfriend” would seem to be a fraught position. And yet Ahna O’Reilly seems not to be bothered. “You do a movie where you’re gay,” she says, “or, in James’s case, more than one, it’s going to happen. I know that a lot of people wish he were gay, or think I’m not his real girlfriend. But there’s nothing you can do about that.”

O’Reilly and Franco met five years ago, just before his career took its radical turn. She was an acting student at Playhouse West, the school Franco had studied at years before. He was an increasingly famous actor on the brink of a career crisis. They discovered that they’d both grown up in Palo Alto, ten minutes away from each other, and that their mothers used to chat at the public pool. They’ve been together ever since, through all the rumors, and the schoolwork, and the move to New York. It seems emblematic that Ahna, who lives in L.A., is speaking to me from Franco’s apartment in New York—she’s here to film a movie—while Franco is in L.A. filming new episodes of General Hospital.

“The choice to go back to school really changed everything,” O’Reilly remembers. “He was reading all the time and writing papers all the time—just constant schoolwork. He was so, so happy. And it was funny how it worked: Once he gave up trying to control his acting career, everything kind of came his way. Pineapple Express  came along, and then Milk. ”

I tell O’Reilly that I wonder sometimes if Franco’s entire life—the sexual play, the grad school, even my article—is a work of performance art. “No,” she says. “But if someone were doing a performance piece like that, it would be him.”



7. Meta/Earnest

“I wonder if his ***sensarity*** is real or fake?”

—YouTube comment on General Hospital  Franco clip


“Since when is performance art a crime?”

—Franco, General Hospital,  January 8, 2010


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As Franco adds layer upon layer, wink upon wink—as he slides further along the continuum from Gyllenhaal to Warhol—his entire career is beginning to look less like an actual career than like some kind of gonzo performance piece: a high-concept parody of cultural ambition. He’s become a node of pop-cultural curiosity in roughly the same universe as Lady Gaga. Blogs report Franco’s texting habits at parties and spread bizarre secondhand rumors about his film shoots. (“Franco is in a wheelchair, with a blanket over his legs like FDR, and a camcorder in his hand ...”) There are YouTube tributes that splice together all his onscreen kisses, a Tumblr account that publishes daily pictures of him, and even an online interactive James Franco dress-up doll. It’s hard to imagine this is all accidental: It seems like the work of a virtuoso public-image artist. And yet Franco plays the role, fairly convincingly, of the earnest boy just following his interests. (It’s worth noting that, although the web is obsessed with him, he maintains zero web presence—no Twitter account, no blog.) In interviews he’s charming and affable but rarely says anything provocative. His work itself, his career choices, are more interesting than his words.

My favorite Franco art project, the one that best combines all of his interests (high/low, gay/straight, earnest/ironic) is his work on General Hospital.  It started as a joke between Franco and his artist friend Carter, who were discussing a movie in which Franco would play a former soap star. It occurred to them that it would be funny if Franco actually showed up, sometime, on a real soap opera. This fit nicely into a constellation of ideas Franco had already been thinking about: the difference between high art and mass art, the space between performance and real life, the vagaries of taste. So Franco called General Hospital,  one of TV’s most popular and longest-running soap operas. The result is a small, double-edged pop-culture masterpiece—a black hole of publicity in which everything works both within the frame of the show and as a commentary on Franco’s career.

Franco’s General Hospital  character is a transparent soap-world portrait of Franco himself: a dashing multimedia artist (graffiti, photography, performance art) named “Franco” who sweeps into town and fascinates, angers, seduces, and generally confuses everyone around him. Like Franco, “Franco” is obsessed with art that crosses over into reality: He re-creates, in galleries, actual crime scenes—until eventually the people of Port Charles come to suspect that he might be a murderer himself.

Franco plays “Franco” with deliciously campy intensity. He unleashes the full soap-opera repertoire: brooding stares, sudden outbursts, feverish make-out sessions, deadpan quips. (“Keep the change,” he says, flipping a quarter onto a corpse.) His story arc will culminate, this month, in a very special episode set in the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A., at which “Franco” will stage an art show that doubles as some kind of explosive evil-genius doomsday scenario. Franco himself, the real human, is also going to have a show at MoCA this summer based on his experience on General Hospital. (He brought a camera crew along to film the filming of the episodes.) In December, Franco wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal  in which he declared that he intends his General Hospital  cameo to be seen as performance art. (“My hope was for people to ask themselves if soap operas are really that far from entertainment that is considered critically legitimate.”) The article was accompanied, online, by a video conversation between Franco and Abramovic, held in her apartment, during which she had him put on a white lab coat, peel almonds, and eat a dessert ball wrapped in a sheet of gold.



Next: Is he addicted to playing James Franco?



For an earnest guy, Franco has always been ragingly addicted to meta. He loves to play James Franco—not just in General Hospital  (sort of), but in Knocked Up, 30 Rock,  and a series of short videos he’s made for the website Funny or Die  (e.g., “Acting With James Franco,” in which he instructs his younger brother Dave in the rudiments of the profession). The more Franco self-dramatizes like this, and the more we become accustomed to it, the more he’s actually James Franco playing James Franco playing James Franco—a mise en abyme  of artsy pomo heartthrob.



8. The Opening

“Art’s like a mirror. It’s pretty clear what you see.”

—Franco, General Hospital,  November 23, 2009


“Don’t be afraid. You and I are … intimates. Say what you feel.”

—Franco, General Hospital, July 6, 2010

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The last time I see James Franco is at the opening of his first solo art show, at the Clocktower Gallery in downtown New York. The Clocktower is a nonprofit gallery that’s prestigious but not at all flashy; it’s hidden on the thirteenth floor of an enormously bland municipal building. When I enter, I’m pulled aside by Alanna Heiss, the curator of the show, who tells me that this opening is not about a red carpet, or creating buzz, or making money. She chose Franco, she says, not for his celebrity but because he has a special vision—an understanding, above all, of the connectivity among media—that she thinks is going to influence the way future generations look at art. But there’s no denying that Franco’s celebrity will be an incredible draw—it may as well be one of the pieces in the show.

The show is called “The Dangerous Book Four Boys,” a corruption of the book title The Dangerous Book for Boys,  which is a tongue-in-cheek primer of young masculinity. (Franco has torn out, doodled on, and framed pages of that book all over the gallery.) One of its first rooms features a large pile of junk heaped on the floor: T-shirts, books, VHS tapes, lunch boxes. It looks like the bedroom of a 12-year-old hoarder. (Heiss tells me that it’s all authentic Franco junk, shipped out from his childhood room in California.) The rest of the show feels similarly haphazard. It’s a hodgepodge of media: film, doodles, wooden structures, photos. The uniting theme seems to be the messy transition from boyhood to adolescence, with special emphasis on the messiest markers of that shift—sex and violence. The wall text says it was made possible, in part, by funding from Gucci. (Franco is the face of the company’s men’s fragrance.)

Much of the art is violent or explicitly obscene. A video called Masculinity and Me  intersperses lurid monologues about rape and murder and diarrhea with close-up shots of a urinating penis and a defecating anus. (Many of the speeches sound like comments from an undergrad queer-theory seminar: “Man and woman are impossible ideals,” one character says. “We’re all gender-fucked—we’re all something in between, floating like angels.”) Another short film, Dicknose in Paris,  features Franco as the title character, with a big floppy prosthetic penis—complete with dangling testicles and a bush of pubic hair—hanging down from the middle of his face. (When Dicknose walks the streets of Paris, he has to cover his face with a sweatshirt.) Franco often wears masks in his work: a wolf, a clown, a freakish bald-headed man-monster. It comes off as a rebuke to his own outlandishly pretty face: the face that has won him so much in the world (including, at least in part, this art show)—but also the face that stands between him and serious artistic credibility.

The show’s most prominent piece is a big barnlike structure made of plywood, the kind of playhouse a perfect father might build for his 9-year-old son. I step inside to find a small room lined with plywood benches. It’s sweltering. On the far wall, a video is being projected: footage of a plywood house burning to the ground. One of the other visitors walks out, and suddenly there are only two of us, here in the house that contains an image of its own destruction, and the other person is James Franco.

I stand very still, like a hiker who’s just seen a bear. Franco’s publicist has recently informed me that—after all these months of e-mailing (he always responds immediately, and likes to sign off with “Peace”) and brief conversations—Franco and I are no longer allowed to talk. He’s signed an exclusivity agreement with another magazine. Under no circumstances am I to speak to him, I’m told, not even to say hello. I can see him now in my peripheral vision: He looks not like a grad student or a hipster but like an international golden boy, a corporate spokesman—unmasked and cleanly shaven, dressed in a gray Gucci suit and pointy black Gucci shoes. His hair is sculptural, bushy but managed. Surely, I think, if someone sees us together, I will be thrown out. On the opposite wall, the flames have stripped the house to its frame, reducing it to some kind of glowing black non-substance, half-wood, half-ash.



Next: How his paradox defines his career.



A few seconds pass.

“Hi, Sam,” James Franco says.

I feel the same low-grade thrill of intimacy I felt at our first meeting in the NYU bathroom—this time spiced with a new kind of danger.

“I think we’re not supposed to be talking,” I say.

“Why, what happened?” he says. “Did somebody call you? Did you get a talking to?”

I tell him that his inner circle has done everything short of surrounding him with barbed wire.

“You know that’s not coming from me, right?” he says.

I don’t know if this is true, here in the room that’s consuming itself, or if James Franco is just trying to paralyze me with his charm. But my heart melts a little anyway. I have the feeling I had once when I ran into Bill Clinton, randomly, and he shook my hand in a way that made me want to devote the rest of my life to hugging him.

Franco slaps me on the shoulder. “Don’t be scared,” he says. And he walks back out into the thickening crowd.

After that I stand for a long time, just outside the plywood house, watching old home videos being projected onto a gallery wall: Franco in a diaper, spraying a garden hose wildly around the yard; Franco climbing in and out of a laundry basket; Franco naked with a yellow balloon. Franco putting both hands up against a mirror, trying to disappear into his own reflection.

I go back and watch the obscene films again, trying to square them with the expensively dressed man standing across the room. This is the paradox of James Franco: Dicknose in Gucci. It’s either hypocrisy or complexity, self-delusion or radical self-acceptance. It’s the defining fault line of his career, the source of much of his energy. Were he to resolve it in one direction or the other, he might cease to be so interesting.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 11:22:00 am by Aloysius J. Gleek »
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Offline Ellemeno

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2010, 12:58:14 am »
Wow wow.

Offline Ellemeno

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2010, 01:05:32 am »
I didn't know any of this about James Franco.  I saw him in Milk and maybe one or two other things.  Now I want to watch him on General Hospital (something I haven't watched since I was 11 years old and home from school).  

And I didn't know the phrase mise en abyme, so I looked it up.  

Wikipedia:  "Mise en abyme (also mise en abîme) has several meanings in the realm of the creative arts and literary theory. The term is originally from the French and means "placing into infinity" or "placing into the abyss". The commonplace usage of this phrase is describing the visual experience of standing between two mirrors, seeing an infinite reproduction of one's image."

Wikipedia chose this painting by Velázquez, Las Meninas, as a particularly good example.  I can certainly see how it fits this article on James Franco:




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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2010, 01:14:34 am »
I went looking for images of him and found this.


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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2010, 01:30:55 am »
Okay, this isn't mise en abyme, but it is Brokieism within Brokieism - check out the song chosen for the background in this commercial for Franco on General Hospital. 

[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj0M7rghI-E[/youtube]

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2010, 01:42:26 am »
Here's his Gucci ad

[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WTFO7trdLw[/youtube]



And talk about mise en abyme!  BTW, abîmer means to ruin or damage.

[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtkQ1lp_Yo[/youtube]

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2010, 02:16:13 am »



I went looking for images of him and found this.





Oh yeah.






And talk about mise en abyme!  BTW, abîmer means to ruin or damage.

[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtkQ1lp_Yo[/youtube]


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtkQ1lp_Yo&feature



Ha!

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(and you know who I am...)


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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2010, 10:24:35 pm »
Wow wow is right. That's fascinating! And inspirational. I'm going to get a bracelet engraved with "WWJFD?"

Except that I probably won't be inspired to make art that ...

Quote
... is violent or explicitly obscene. A video called Masculinity and Me   intersperses lurid monologues about rape and murder and diarrhea with close-up shots of a urinating penis and a defecating anus.


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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2010, 01:30:40 pm »
From Slate:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/browbeat/archive/2010/07/30/i-d-love-to-join-you-for-dinner-but-i-m-in-a-magazine-profile.aspx

I’d Love To Join You for Dinner, but I’m in a Magazine Profile
Posted Friday, July 30, 2010 11:35 AM | By Josh Levin


According to Sam Anderson's cover story in this week's New York magazine, there's only one thing in the entire universe that actor/artist/grad student/documentarian James Franco makes no effort to do. "I guarantee you he would not eat unless I fed him," Franco's assistant says of her boss. "He'll do the hand-to-mouth part, but I definitely bring it to his hands." Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, is similarly too busy to forage for food. "I spent two months in one room in Paris once without leaving," Assange explained in a recent New Yorker profile. "People were handing me food."

In a magazine feature, a refusal to engage with groceries is shorthand for the subject's extreme industriousness—he's too busy to think about carbo-loading. It's also a symbol of power: While you and I would likely die if we didn't eat, Franco and Assange have minders who dutifully bring them vittles, leaving them free to carry on their life's work.

Limited food intake can also be a signal that we're in the presence of a superhuman specimen. Though Michael Hastings' Rolling Stone piece got Gen. Stanley McChrystal relieved of his command in Afghanistan, the piece at least burnished McChrystal's tough-guy reputation by noting that he ate just one meal a day. A powerful man's meal-skipping also typically comes with a side order of light sleeping—just as consuming food is a sign of weakness, so is the all-too-human impulse to grab more than five hours of shuteye. A 2007 Los Angeles magazine profile of Pete Carroll marveled that the then-USC coach doesn't appear to eat, drink, sleep, or pee, leaving writer J.R. Moehringer—the proxy for us feeble readers—"hungry, tired, thirsty, and [in] need [of] ... a men's room."

Female profile subjects, not surprisingly, play by different rules. A man who misses a meal is an absent-minded genius. A woman who skips dinner runs the risk of being labeled an anorexic. In women's magazines, then, it's far more common for an interviewee to talk about how much she loves to eat—especially how much she loves to eat hamburgers. But take a lesson from MIA, powerful women of the world: Skip the fries.



(Links to references, such as that last bit about MIA's fries, available at site.)


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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2010, 01:47:41 pm »
And then this hilarious piece, from the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/artinfo/francophrenia-a-digest-of_b_660938.html



Francophrenia: A Digest of New York's Epic James Franco Profile


Although these days quizzical mentions of actor-turned-student-turned-writer-turned-artist James Franco's name are frequently heard in art-world precincts, ARTINFO just recently discovered that the artist's multifarious productivity is an even more significant topic than previously thought. The epiphany came from Sam Anderson, book critic for New York magazine, whose cover story in the latest issue explores the nuances of Franco's frenetic career. At great length. No: At extraordinary length.

The piece weighs in at seven times the word-count of Anderson's reminiscence about David Foster Wallace on the occasion of the seminal author's suicide. In fact, it is roughly the same length as "In Defense of Distraction," the book critic's stem-winding manifesto about the impact of the Internet on the cultural consumption of an entire generation. The Franco story is nearly 300 words longer.

ARTINFO, therefore, decided to digest this tome of an ode on Franco -- it's 6,499 words long in total -- into something more suitable for easily distracted readers in the Internet age. In so doing, we discovered (spoiler alert!) the profile to be one of the biggest journalistic write-arounds since Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold." The piece might even be renamed, "James Franco Pees in Front of Me Once and Then Doesn't Let Me Talk to Him Again," since, as Anderson reveals some thousands of words in, "Franco's publicist has recently informed me that -- after all these months of e-mailing (he always responds immediately, and likes to sign off with 'Peace') and brief conversations--Franco and I are no longer allowed to talk. He's signed an exclusivity agreement with another magazine."

Here, before getting to our ten-item digest, let us pause to wonder: What kind of high-flown placement could have deep-sixed a New York magazine cover story that was already in progress. A Calvin Tomkins immortalization in the New Yorker? A treatise in October by Yves Alain Bois? A mash note in Tiger Beat by Justin Bieber? This question left unanswered, Anderson ultimately tells us not to worry about his level of remove from his subject. Of Franco he says: "In interviews he's charming and affable but rarely says anything provocative. His work itself, his career choices, are more interesting than his words." So, it's better this way. Now to commence with the digest. It may begin with the mundane, but like any of Franco's stunts, it ends... oddly.

1. James Franco Is a Normal Guy:
Who, according to Anderson, wears "a standard grad-student uniform: washed-out jeans, charcoal sweater, gray sneakers, messy hair," when he goes into an NYU bathroom and pees in front of the reporter. This is really the only thing Franco does in Anderson's presence before the lines of communication are severed. But Franco's just like you and me, and when he "desperately needs to urinate" after having recently consumed a lot of coffee, he "starts to urinate, matter-of-factly, into a urinal -- a process that goes on for an extremely long time."

2. James Franco Controls His Own Facial Features: As any good actor should, no doubt. This talent is put to the test in the article when Franco winks. Anderson muses upon the wink (after all, it is the peak of the action in this article, the subsequent 5,000 words of which will be based on no physical contact with the subject) making it a metaphor for all that Franco has done or will do. So, Anderson torturously debates what kind of wink this wink was. "A cheesy Hollywood-schmoozer wink, meant to charm and titillate me -- the equivalent of a personalized James Franco autograph on our conversation? Or was it sincere, a gesture of goodwill and openhearted, rakish, devil-may-care bonhomie? (Is a sincere wink even possible, here in the cinema-studies department at NYU, in the year 2010?) Was it ironic -- a wink set in quotation marks? Was he making fun of me, and of himself, and of the whole vexed transaction of celebrity journalism? Was he flirting with me, or metaflirting -- making a sly reference to all the gay rumors swirling around him, and to our strange homosocial trip to the bathroom together?" Maybe he had something in his eye. (Remember when that happened to George Costanza? Hilarity ensued!)

3. James Franco Makes Films:
Which would come as no surprise -- except he makes all films. "In the next year or so, he'll be appearing in the films 'Eat, Pray, Love' (as Julia Roberts's boyfriend), 'Howl' (as Allen Ginsberg), '127 Hours' (as the one-armed hiker), 'Your Highness' (a medieval comedy), 'William Vincent' (an indie film by one of his NYU professors), 'Maladies' (put out by his own production company), and 'Rise of the Apes' (a prequel to 'Planet of the Apes'). And of course there's his epically weird stint on 'General Hospital' -- the crown jewel in the current science project of his career." To note: it was on one of these "General Hospital" episodes that the term Francophrenia was coined. It is an apt term.

4. James Franco Writes Literature:
He has had stories published in Esquire and McSweeney's, and he wrote a novel while studying at UCLA. He has also written an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, which is potentially more of an intervention than infiltrating "General Hospital." Quite the Renaissance man, as we already knew, and an iconoclast.

5. James Franco is Collaborating with Artists:
Specifically, with the filmmaker Carter, with John Kelly, with Marina Abramovic (at least to make some gilded chocolate), and with performance artist Kalup Linzy (although Anderson never mentions Linzy's name in the profile, though he is also on "General Hospital").

6. James Franco Likes to Go to School:
He likes to go to a seemingly inhuman number of schools -- a school of schools. First, he enrolled at four simultaneously: "NYU for filmmaking, Columbia for fiction writing, Brooklyn College for fiction writing, and -- just for good measure -- a low-residency poetry program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina." And then this fall tack on "Yale, for a Ph.D. in English, and also at the Rhode Island School of Design." No wonder he doesn't have time to talk to more than one magazine at once.

7. James Franco Doesn't Eat, Sleep, or Act Human in Any Way: According to Anderson, the actor replaces REM cycles with "catnaps... sometimes even in the middle of a conversation." Also, Franco doesn't drink or smoke, but rather has "engineered his life so he can spend all his time either making or learning about art." He even hired his former classmate Dana Morgan to make sure his body remains alive while his brain pursues this goal: "He would not eat unless I fed him. He'll do the hand-to-mouth part, but I definitely bring it to his hands."

8. James Franco's Life is Not Best Understood Through His Wink, But Through Yale Scholar Michael Warner's Thesis on Sexuality
(NB: Warner coined the word "heteronormative"): That's Anderson's finding, at least. As Warner has stated, "queer" is defined "against the normal rather than the sexual." An interesting standpoint for an artist. But Anderson suspects otherwise: "It is also possible that he's just engaged in the world's most public, and confused, coming-out process.... Given all of this, "James Franco's girlfriend" would seem to be a fraught position." On top of the nonstop work schedule, resultant narcolepsy, and constant urination, you mean?

9. James Franco's Gallery Show Is Really Weird:
The exhibit at Clocktower Gallery, titled "The Dangerous Book Four Boys," includes a video juxtaposing "lurid monologues about rape and murder and diarrhea with close-up shots of a urinating penis and a defecating anus" while another (dubbed "Dicknose in Paris") shows Franco with a dildo on his nose, "complete with dangling testicles and a bush of pubic hair -- hanging down from the middle of his face."

10. James Franco May or May Not Be Involved in Something Terrifying:
At the end of the story, once it has made clear to Anderson that his contact with Franco has been cut off -- though the by-now-incomprehensible subject says not by him -- the author writes: "Franco slaps me on the shoulder. 'Don't be scared,' he says. And he walks back out into the thickening crowd." Wait. That's like the plot twist at the end of "Inception." What is going on here?

- Andrew Goldstein & Emma Allen



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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2010, 09:29:04 pm »
This is both an interesting second-person first-person piece about how an actor prepares, and a study in how to suggest truths beyond the scope of a text.

AN ACTOR PREPARES
Finding the Beat
Capturing the young Allen Ginsberg, as the author did for this month’s biopic Howl, means tweaked ears, a New Jersey accent, and a thorough understanding of what fueled the Beat poet’s masterpiece—and a landmark 1957 obscenity trial.
By James Franco
September 2010


Allen Ginsberg was a struggling artist until Lawrence Ferlinghetti published his Howl and Other Poems, in 1956. Ginsberg was 30. An obscenity trial in San Francisco, following fast on the heels of publication, served only to bring Ginsberg and his work to wide attention. Fame never made Ginsberg rich, but it did make him a public figure. He read his poetry around the world with his fellow Beats. He became a political activist. Unlike his friend Jack Kerouac, who responded badly to fame and died in his 40s, Ginsberg lived into his 70s, finding a place in the counterculture of the 60s and the punk scene of the 80s. He taught college students until the last year of his life.

But you don’t really need to know most of this to play the young Ginsberg. Young Ginsberg—the Ginsberg who went to Columbia, whose work was read by Lionel Trilling and Mark Van Doren, who was kicked out of college (and institutionalized) in part because he was gay—is not a familiar character. Everyone has an image of the large-bellied, bearded, balding Buddha figure that Ginsberg became. But to play the young Ginsberg, you, the actor, must be slim and clean-shaven and must dye your hair black—your full head of hair. You must wear thick-framed glasses. You must apply prostheses to your ears to make them stick out.

To play the young Ginsberg you will be required to read his poems in character—and will want to catch the distinctive New Jersey accent (he was from Paterson), and the determined lilt that varies in tone from ironic-tragic to wryly comic. So you will need to listen to recordings, and listen to them a lot. There is little film footage of Ginsberg from this time, but there are plenty of audio recordings. Notice how on the earliest ones his delivery is staid and serious—he even tells hecklers to shut up. On the later recordings, 35 years on, he is loose and funny, a practiced performer. If you are going to play the young Ginsberg, you will want to meld a variety of these readings. If you are completely faithful to the early ones, your performance could be flat. Use the early readings as a model for the scenes where Ginsberg is just starting out. Use the later ones to provide a sense of Ginsberg’s evolution. Regardless, listen to all of the recordings, every day, for months. Walk around New York doing this. Put the recordings on your iPod and walk. Get your voice in tune with his. Don’t worry about people looking at you. In New York, this is not weird.

There are 8-mm. home movies of Ginsberg taken on the Jersey Shore, but they show a boy too young for your needs. The closest thing to the period you want will be the film Pull My Daisy, by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie. It came out in 1959, only three years after Howl. There is no sync sound on the film, only a voice-over by Kerouac, so you won’t hear Ginsberg speak. But you’ll see how he sits. You’ll see his jaunty movements when he walks, dances, moves his arms. The other valuable piece of footage for your purposes is an interview with Ginsberg, filmed at the City Lights Bookstore, in 1965. Granted, this material is more than 10 years after the period you wish to depict. But the gesticulations are the same. Ginsberg loved to talk with his hands.

All of this is the external work on the character. You will also need to know the inner Ginsberg, the developing-artist Ginsberg, the Ginsberg who was earnest, confused, and insecure. His father was a high-school teacher and a poet, though a fairly traditional one in style and content. His mother faced severe mental illness and was lobotomized. It was Ginsberg who authorized the procedure, and the ensuing guilt and sorrow never left him. You can read about all this in “Kaddish,” a poem so personal and deeply sad that Robert Lowell, it is said, once had to excuse himself from a reading, because he would have broken down if he hadn’t. You will need to know that when Ginsberg entered Columbia, in 1943, he was inexperienced, intellectually naïve, and a virgin. His friends Lucien Carr and Jack Kerouac taught him about drinking, about French Symbolist poetry, about culture more generally. An older William Burroughs helped Ginsberg find his way as a gay man in the 1950s, when public models were few. You will also need to know that, while these friendships were at their most intense, Lucien Carr, in a sociopathic haze, murdered his hometown friend and gym teacher, David Kammerer, and threw his body into the Hudson. (Kerouac helped Carr bury the victim’s eyeglasses in Morningside Park.) Later, Burroughs shot his wife in the head, killing her, reportedly while pretending to be William Tell. Events like these will have an effect on a young man—perhaps prompting fears for his own sanity. They will find their way into “Howl,” so if you are going to play the young Ginsberg, above all you will need to know that poem.

You should probably know it anyway.

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/features/2010/09/james-franco-on-howl-201009?printable=true#ixzz0xrMCZfpN

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2010, 10:43:19 pm »


This is both an interesting second-person first-person piece about how an actor prepares, and a study in how to suggest truths beyond the scope of a text.

AN ACTOR PREPARES
Finding the Beat
Capturing the young Allen Ginsberg, as the author did for this month’s biopic Howl, means tweaked ears, a New Jersey accent, and a thorough understanding of what fueled the Beat poet’s masterpiece—and a landmark 1957 obscenity trial.
By James Franco
September 2010



Great article--thank you so much, Katherine!
Again, I have to say--young Mr. Franco is not  the average bear (that's as in YOGI Bear, not, you know, bear--

 ;) ::) :laugh:
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2010, 11:36:31 pm »



Unlike his friend Jack Kerouac, who responded badly to fame and died in his 40s, Ginsberg lived into his 70s, finding a place in the counterculture of the 60s and the punk scene of the 80s. He taught college students until the last year of his life.

(....)

Everyone has an image of the large-bellied, bearded, balding Buddha figure that Ginsberg became. But to play the young Ginsberg, you, the actor, must be slim and clean-shaven and must dye your hair black—your full head of hair. You must wear thick-framed glasses. You must apply prostheses to your ears to make them stick out.


      


   


   
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2010, 12:28:01 pm »
 8)


[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZeJmGpKeg&feature[/youtube]


[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvRxkH8NDUs&feature=channel[/youtube]


"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2010, 06:36:46 pm »

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/movies/12ryzik.html?hpw




The New Season Film
The (Extremely) Creative Ferment
of James Franco


James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in “Howl,” which is set for release on Sept. 24.

By MELENA RYZIK
Published: September 8, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia


JAMES FRANCO has prepared for this interview. Overprepared, perhaps, but that wouldn’t be anything new; he loves research. Sitting in his hotel room here last month, where he’s filming the prequel to “Planet of the Apes,” he’d read my Twitter feed and watched some videos I’ve done about music and movies.

“It’s almost as if we’re in a relationship,” Mr. Franco said, crinkling his eyebrows, “where, like, I’m the actor and you’re the director.” He paused, uncrinkled. “And it’s weird because usually when I pick the film or a television show or whatever, I know who the director is going to be, I know what they’ve done in the past, and I choose if I want to work with them. But in this situation I don’t really choose, so I guess the least I can do is find out who you are.” He quoted my Twitter posts back to me for the rest of the day, even though he said he doesn’t use the site himself.

Which is also weird, because Mr. Franco, 32, loves referential commentary and the confluence of media. Lately he has embarked on a quest to be an artist rather than a celebrity, exhibiting his paintings and video installations at galleries and studying for advanced degrees at various colleges, writing short stories and composing poetry, appearing as a menacing artiste named Franco on ABC’s “General Hospital” while still flirting in big-budget movies like “Eat Pray Love.” His cross-cultural meandering has sparked water-cooler chatter on blogs and in print, sometimes with the help of Mr. Franco himself, who has written about it, adding another layer to the post-modern riddle of his shifting persona.

Meta? Or does he, like most Hollywood heartthrobs, just like talking about himself? “I used to not like it,” he said. But a few years ago, at the premiere for “Spider-Man 3” in London — around the time Mr. Franco was having second thoughts about the direction of his career — he discussed interviews with the young British painter Nigel Cooke. “He said, ‘I love it, I can talk about my work all day,’ ” Mr. Franco recalled. “And then it kind of clicked.



James Franco as an agitated Harry Osborn in "Spider-Man 3."


“There’s a certain kind of thought and preparation that goes into his work. I envied that. And so now that I’m engaged with a lot of other things that I’m interested in, I don’t mind talking. It also feels less like I’m just selling a studio’s product and more like I can just have discussions about things that I enjoy.”

Good thing too. In “Howl,” the next movie he is discussing, not selling, Mr. Franco plays the young Allen Ginsberg; for most of his screen time he is giving an interview to an unseen interlocutor. The film, the first feature from the documentarians Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein (“The Celluloid Closet”), is less a biopic than a triptych, moving among the Ginsberg interview, the 1957 obscenity trial that followed the publication of “Howl,” and the reading of the poem in a smoky cafe, interspersed with bright, fanciful animation. It opened this year’s Sundance Film Festival and will be released on Sept. 24.

Mr. Franco met the two filmmakers on the set of “Milk” — its director, Gus Van Sant, is an executive producer of “Howl” — and signed up even before it was financed. “It was a huge boost and gave us a lot of credibility,” Mr. Friedman said of enlisting Mr. Franco.

As the filmmakers raised money, Mr. Franco was able to prepare with his usual gusto: watching interviews, reading biographies, talking to experts, wearing the nerdy Ginsberg glasses (still available at Moscot in New York). His take — that the young poet was an eager communicator even as he was just discovering what he wanted to say — applies to his own path. And it’s clear on screen, where Mr. Franco vibrates with intellectual energy while recognizably laconic in his delivery. “I have joked that he’s a 21st-century beatnik,” Mr. Epstein said of Mr. Franco, “but he really does have that sensibility. He’s really interested and excited about experimentation and exploring the possibilities of how one can be an artist.”

While preparing for “Howl” Mr. Franco was enrolled in master’s programs at New York University (for film) and Columbia University and Brooklyn College (for writing). For months he would walk to class listening to Ginsberg read “Howl” on his iPod. “I’d have the little book with me, and I’d listen to him, and I’d just read along with him to just ingrain that voice in my head,” he said. Mr. Franco has made three short films about poems for school and is at work on a feature about Hart Crane that he will adapt (from Paul L. Mariani’s biography), direct and star in. And he is in his fifth semester in yet another graduate program, for poetry, at Warren Wilson College near Asheville, N.C.



As hard as I work in film," Mr. Franco said, "it's my day job."


Debra Allbery, the director of that program, where students work remotely except for 10 days on campus each semester, declined to talk about Mr. Franco’s writing specifically. “This is a place where he can come be an apprentice like everybody else,” she said. “We worked very hard to protect him here.” But she allowed that he managed to fit in. “As far as the commitment, the focus, the dedication, the skill, he’s right in line,” she said.

Academic overload is not what actors are known for, but Mr. Franco has gone beyond that as well; he is creatively outstretched. His New York gallery debut, “The Dangerous Book Four Boys,” is on view at the Clocktower Gallery in Lower Manhattan. His first book, “Palo Alto,” a story collection set in his California hometown, will be out in October from Scribner.

After that comes “127 Hours,” Danny Boyle’s dramatization of the true story of Aron Ralston, the hiker forced to amputate his own arm after being trapped in a Utah canyon; Mr. Franco again spends much of his screen time alone. This month he begins a Ph.D. program at Yale, for English.

“I shouldn’t say I’m doing so many things, because it starts to sound ridiculous after a while,” Mr. Franco said, rightly. Then he described a few other projects.

In the weeks this summer he spent in Vancouver filming “Caesar: Rise of the Apes” — a title whose campiness drove him to an eye roll — he spent his off time holed up in the hotel, shooting short videos for Sundance or editing those and his other projects with an assistant. He sneaked out only to see “Inception” and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” “I like how they get away with making everything about sex, but not having it,” he said of the “Twilight” series. Romantic coyness suits him.

In person Mr. Franco is casual but intense, sharply charismatic. He closes his eyes in thought and grins at his ideas as he describes them, as if he’s in the midst of a particularly fulfilling internal dialogue. The poetry projects and his book are the least influenced by his celebrity, he said, though he knows people will view them through that prism. “As hard as I work in film, it’s my day job,” he said. “Those are, I don’t know, pure expression.”

Some of his hyperproductivity is no doubt the result of his upbringing. His parents’ interests included painting, software development, educational reform and children’s books. “I guess you could say that we have a very strange, artsy family,” said Dave Franco, the youngest of the three Franco siblings, and also an actor. (Tom, the middle brother, is a sculptor.) And James has always been industrious.

“I would write scenes for ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ and Franco would come over and help work on them and read them,’ said Seth Rogen, his co-star on that cult TV show and later in the pot comedy “Pineapple Express.” “I remember at the time thinking it was crazy that he would do that.” Early on, Mr. Franco made a painting for Mr. Rogen — a really dark one, Mr. Rogen recalled. “It had the words ‘cancer’ and ‘death’ written on it. He was going through a phase, it was kind of reminiscent of Basquiat.” Mr. Rogen requested a “happier, more colorful” painting, and Mr. Franco obliged. (“I realized later that was maybe a really insulting thing to ask an artist,” Mr. Rogen said.)



Mr. Franco with Seth Rogen playing lazy stoners in "Pineapple Express."


Mr. Franco’s transition from leading man to intellectual does not surprise Mr. Rogen. “If anything, it was really weird that he was ever pursuing the straight-ahead movie star path,” he said. “Knowing him, it just seemed like the last thing in the world that he would be happy doing.”

By his own admission Mr. Franco is happier as an artist now, even if his efforts so far have not been wholly critically successful. A short story published in Esquire  received withering responses; his art show also drew uneven reviews. In The New York Times,  Roberta Smith called it “a confusing mix of the clueless and the halfway promising,” though she added that it made her rethink her own art biases.

Mr. Franco was pleased with this critique. He is open about still developing his ideas, even if they sometimes appear before a skeptical public. “All I can do,” he said, “is put the work in.” He’s an ambitious student, not a superhuman.

“Any movie that I’ve ever seen with him, I can’t remember him staying awake through,” Dave Franco said.
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2010, 09:32:53 pm »

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/13/arts/design/13beat.html?hp








Last Chance
Poet With a Kodak and a Restless Eye

By HOLLAND COTTER
Published: September 12, 2010








WASHINGTON — The poet Allen Ginsberg, who died in 1997, adored life, feared death and craved fame. These obsessions seemed to have kept him, despite his practice of Buddhist meditation, from sitting still for long. He was constantly writing, teaching, traveling, networking, chasing lovers, sampling drugs, pushing political causes and promoting the work of writer friends.

In the early 1950s he began to photograph these friends in casual snapshots, meant to be little more than souvenirs of a shared time and ethos. Years later his picture taking — often of the same friends, now battered by life or approaching death — became more formal and artful, as if he were trying to freeze his subjects’ faces and energies, and to show off his photographic skills, for the history books.

Nearly 80 pictures, early and late, many with handwritten inscriptions, are on view through Thursday in “Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg” at the National Gallery of Art here. Some are familiar; others rarely seen. As arranged by Sarah Greenough, the senior curator in the museum’s department of photographs, they form a continuous narrative. In the space of two small galleries we watch legends take shape, beauties fade, an American era come and go.

Ginsberg began his photographic chronicle of what would become the Beat generation in earnest in 1953, when he was in his late 20s and living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He had known the group’s crucial personalities — William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac and their communal muse Neal Cassady — since his student days at Columbia. He regarded them collectively, himself very much included, as a new literary vanguard. The work they were doing in the early ’50s seemed to confirm his faith. And his early pictures, taken with a secondhand Kodak, project a buoyant confidence.

We see figures who would soon enough become cultural monuments still vital and mercurial. In one much-published picture Kerouac, smoking and brooding, is already a romantic hero, but in another he’s a mugging cut-up on an East Village street “making a Dostoyevsky mad-face,” to quote Ginsberg’s caption.

And we also see a surprisingly seductive version of Burroughs. The world would come to know him as a dour presence in business suits and Burberry raincoats, but Ginsberg photographed him lying in bed like a half-nude odalisque eyeing the camera. When the picture was taken, the two men were briefly living together as lovers, with Burroughs deeply smitten, and Ginsberg primarily focused on editing Burroughs’s new novel, “Queer.”

By December of 1953 there were major shifts. Burroughs left for Morocco. Ginsberg hit the road for adventures in Mexico and Cuba, eventually landing in San Francisco. There in 1954 he met the teenage Peter Orlovsky, who would become his life partner. The relationship proved extremely complicated, but Ginsberg’s initial photos of his new mate have a distinct glow of tenderness that extends to pictures of other San Francisco friends. It’s as if the Summer of Love had arrived a generation early.

When Ginsberg first read his lacerating anti-establishment poem “Howl,” to a San Francisco audience in 1955, he found himself instantly famous. After “Howl” appeared in book form, he was notorious. United States Customs officials seized a second printing of the book and charged its publisher, the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, with selling obscene literature. Ferlinghetti was acquitted, but the 1957 trial put the Beat phenomenon squarely on the countercultural map. (A film titled “Howl,” which both documents and dramatizes the censorship incident, opens in New York this month with the promotional slogan: “The obscenity trial that started a revolution; the poem that rocked a generation.”)

Ginsberg was out of the country during the flap, wandering here and there, photographing wherever he went. We see his portraits of Burroughs and Paul Bowles in Tangier, then of Corso in Paris. By 1962 Ginsberg and Orlovsky were in India, taking drugs, chatting up holy men. With his full beard and long hair, Ginsberg looked like a proto-hippie at this point, but he was also still an avid sightseer, a kind of cultural tourist, snapping shots of erotic sculptures on Hindu temples.

After the mid-’60s the production of photographs drops off for almost two decades. There are some fine pictures still: one of Orlovsky doing a nude handstand on an old farm he and Ginsberg had bought in Cherry Valley, N.Y., and a final portrait of Kerouac in his early 40s, bloated, alcohol soaked, almost unrecognizable. But at some point Ginsberg lost a couple of cameras and was too busy to replace them. He let photography go.

Two decades later, though, he picked it up again in a serious way. In 1983 he came across pictures from the ’50s he had long forgotten about, many in the form of undeveloped negatives or cheap drugstore prints. He realized he was holding history in his hands. And, more aware than ever of the passing of time and of the increasing stature the Beat movement had earned, he wanted to preserve that past, and to extend it through photography.

So he bought a new camera. He consulted experts — Berenice Abbott, Robert Frank — about picture taking and printing. He reprinted old images in larger formats and with lots of blank marginal space for written annotation. (The captions on all his photos, however early, date from the 1980s onward.) Soon he was exhibiting and, not a minor consideration for a person who supported many old friends, selling work. Photography became a full-fledged second career.

Roughly half of the pictures in Washington date from the 1980s and 1990s. Most are conventional solo portraits, interesting because the sitters — a glum white-haired Corso, a tousled, tired Yevgeny Yevtushenko — are of interest, but also because of Ginsberg’s fine, avid eye, which was present from the start. Only Orlovsky is seen in a group shot. In a wrenching 1987 picture, he sits protectively with his mother and a haunted-looking brother and sister, all of whom suffered from mental illness.

Ginsberg was always eager to photograph pop stars, and there’s a portrait here of Bob Dylan, who was also a friend and collaborator. But the celebrity Ginsberg cared about most in the end was himself, and we get a couple of late-career images of him in this show. In one, a self-portrait from 1991, we see him, grizzled, paunchy and nude, reflected in a motel-room mirror. In a second, from 1996, taken — by Ginsberg himself? by someone else? — on his 70th birthday, he stands in front of his Lower East Side kitchen window, nattily dressed, self-possessed, fresh from a star turn at an exhibition devoted to Beat culture.

My favorites among the later photographs, though, are three of a different kitchen window in an earlier apartment, this time with no one in sight and Ginsberg present only behind the camera. He shot the pictures in different years in the 1980s, but apart from changes of season the view is the same: the window with a cluttered table in front of it, and outside a tenement backyard with scrappy trees, facing walls and patches of sky above.

Basically these are still lifes; undramatic, domestic, emblems of circling time. Or maybe you could think of them as images of everyday altars. In an inscription across the bottom of one he wrote, “I sat for decades at morning breakfast tea looking out my kitchen window” and “one day recognized my own world, the familiar background, the giant wet brick-walled Atlantis garden.” It’s a different world from the one we see in the rest of the show, plain, calm and unstriving. In art, Ginsberg sat still for a while.


“Beat Memories” continues through Thursday at the National Gallery of Art, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington; (202) 737-4215, nga.gov.
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2010, 12:20:37 am »


 ::)




This ought to open up several creative-casting options: James Franco appears in drag on the cover of the latest   magazine, “the first fashion magazine ever completely dedicated to celebrating transvestism, transexuality, cross dressing and androgyny, in all its manifestations.” He was shot by fashion photographer Terry Richardson in blue-eye shadow and red lipstick with jewelry and slicked-back hair.


http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/1637/1/?redirectURL=http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-05-17/men-in-tights/?cid=hp:mainpromo9
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: NYMag: The James Franco Project (Dicknose in Gucci)
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2010, 04:38:27 pm »
Well, methinks he makes a better looking gal than a guy!
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/01/05/james-franco-gay-roles/


James Franco on playing gay characters:
'You know what, maybe I'm just gay'

by Keith Staskiewicz
Jan 5 2011
03:49 PM ET




“Is James Franco gay?” is a favorite query of the pop-cultural chattering classes. It’s not like it’s unique to him: Having the public ponder your sexuality is a celebrity rite of passage. But the thing that makes Franco’s case so interesting is that, unlike the loud denials from some stars and even louder silences from others, the response from the 127 Hours  star (who, for the record, has been in a years-long relationship with actress Ahna O’Reilly) is actually pretty nuanced. Franco addressed the rumor-mill mentality in an exclusive interview with EW  for our recent cover story.

“It’s funny because the way that kind of stuff is talked about on blogs is so black-and-white,” Franco says. “It’s all cut-and-dry identity politics. ‘Is he straight or is he gay?’ Or, ‘This is your third gay movie — come out already!’ And all based on, gay or straight, based on the idea that your object of affection decides your sexuality.”

The actor definitely doesn’t let the speculation inhibit his choice of roles; Franco’s filmography is packed with gay characters, from Allen Ginsberg in Howl,  to activist Scott Smith in Milk  and poet Hart Crane in his just-wrapped feature The Broken Tower.

“There are lots of other reasons to be interested in gay characters than wanting myself to go out and have sex with guys,” he says. “And there are also lots of other aspects about these characters that I’m interested in, in addition to their sexuality. So, in some ways it’s coincidental, in other ways it’s not. I mean, I’ve played a gay man who’s living in the ’60s and ’70s, a gay man who we depicted in the ‘50s, and one being in the ‘20s. And those were all periods when to be gay, at least being gay in public, was much more difficult. Part of what I’m interested in is how these people who were living anti-normative lifestyles contended with opposition.

"Or, you know what, maybe I’m just gay.”
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline louisev

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    • Fiction by Louise Van Hine
*snicker*.  He is only outdone by Johnny Depp, who during an interview about his acting career was asked if his character of Captain Jack Sparrow was gay.  His prompt reply was "All of my characters are gay."

“Mr. Coyote always gets me good, boy,”  Ellery said, winking.  “Almost forgot what life was like before I got me my own personal coyote.”


Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Re: The James Franco Project Continues: My week in pictures (The Guardian, UK)
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2011, 03:12:10 pm »


http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/gallery/2011/jan/23/seven-days-with-james-franco#/?picture=370776034&index=0



   

James Franco: My week in pictures
A week in the life of the actor, director and writer
The Observer, Sunday 23 January 2011


James Franco's first book, Palo Alto (Faber and Faber, £12.99) is out now


 

Grandma trying to steal my look. My grandmother and I made a video
for Funny or Die over the Christmas break. Now she thinks she’s a star/
Photograph: James Franco







This is one of my old cats in LA. When I moved to NYC my brother kept Harry and his brother Arturo. They are
as large as bobcats/
Photograph: James Franco







I edited the first cut of my film about Hart Crane, The Broken Tower,
on my parents’ couch over Christmas/
Photograph: James Franco







Kalup and Franco, recording. Kalup and I started recording
some demo tracks for our album/
Photograph: James Franco







Fat seal. My new best friend/
Photograph: James Franco







Tiger protecting me in class. A friend gave me this token to scare off the
meanies. I whited out my classmates’ faces to preserve their anonymity/
Photograph: James Franco
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Re: The James Franco Project Continues: 'Palo Alto' (the book) by James Franco
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2011, 03:32:25 pm »



Palo Alto
by James Franco






http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jan/02/palo-alto-james-franco-review


 

Palo Alto by James Franco – review
Spider-Man heartthrob James Franco bolsters his already
impressive CV with these engaging tales of bored teenagers
getting into trouble




Killian Fox
The Observer,
Sunday 2 January 2011




Versatile star ... James Franco. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/AP

 
It's becoming increasingly clear that James Franco is more than just a pretty face. This may come as a surprise to anyone who knows him primarily as the chisel-jawed heart-throb from the Spider-Man  movies, in which he played the son of the Green Goblin, and other high-budget, low-IQ Hollywood entertainments such as Tristan + Isolde.  Not exactly groundwork for a parallel career as a writer of short stories that register the influence of Hemingway, Kerouac and Carver and quote casually from Proust.

But recently Franco has been busy defying expectations. As an actor, he has gravitated towards such left-field projects as Milk  and the forthcoming Howl,  in which he plays Allen Ginsberg during his 1957 obscenity trial. He is a keen painter and he classifies his bizarre ongoing appearances on the US daytime soap General Hospital,  playing a sinister artist named "Franco", as performance art. He has written and directed short films and a feature-length documentary about Saturday Night Live, and is planning to shoot an adaptation of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.

That's not all. Without slowing down his acting career, he recently took four master's degrees at once, studying film-making at NYU, writing at Columbia and Brooklyn College, and poetry at a college in North Carolina. Now he's doing a PhD in Yale. And it's not enough that he's been tipped for a best  actor nomination at this year's Oscars for his nerve-shredding performance in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours: he's also presenting the ceremony with Anne Hathaway.

Then there are the stories he's had published in Esquire  and McSweeney's.  In an epic profile – part-dazzled, part-sceptical – in New York  magazine last July, Sam Anderson wrote of Franco's fiction that it "reads like promising work from a writing seminar – not a student whose success you'd guarantee but someone you could see eventually getting there". So now that Franco's first short-story collection is upon us, do we have any clearer sense of whether he is a potentially great artist or merely a greatly prolific one?

Palo Alto,  named after the California city where Franco grew up, is a flawed but fascinating work that neither rules out nor confirms either possibility. It's certainly a promising start, and the Hollywood hunk has definite talent.

The book is made up of snapshots of life in Palo Alto as experienced by a series of bored, delinquent teenagers who spend most of their time drink-driving, taking drugs, obsessing over sex and indulging in random acts of violence. (Anyone who enjoyed Franco in Eat Pray Love,  with Julia Roberts, may be taken aback by the extreme nature of the material.) Each story is told by a young narrator, and Franco locates the adolescent voice by stripping back his prose and keeping lyrical flights to a minimum. This plays to his strengths. At its most understated, his writing is fleet and often penetrating.

When he does occasionally let fly, it can result in a confused tangle. Reflecting on a friend's missing tooth, one of his more existentialist characters ends up thinking "about three dimensions... and how things, shapes, folded in on themselves, and four dimensions, and if time is variable, then how do I vary it, and why do I want to? Because everything just focuses on me and I hate it". This is from "Jack-O" (published in Esquire  last year as "Just Before the Black"), which, to be fair, is the weakest story here.

The stilted prose may have more to do with his confused, semi-articulate young narrators, struggling to dredge meaning out of their directionless lives, but Franco writes so much better when he limits them to short sentences and tiny, rare fragments of insight.

"There was a moon," observes one of his female characters, "and it was on the water. A miniature moon rocking on the little waves. I always see nice images like that but I don't know what to do with them." Elsewhere, someone finds himself with time to think but absolutely no idea what he should be thinking about. Whatever their limitations, however, you never feel that Franco – who went through a delinquent phase himself during his teenage years in Palo Alto – condescends to his characters.

It would be off the mark to say that he is fascinated by them as individuals. The narrative voices barely change between stories. Some are nastier or wittier or marginally more reflective than others, but that's about it. Instead, Franco seems fascinated – obsessed, even – by adolescence itself. The Proust quote at the start of the book states that, in spite of the regrets it may weigh upon us in later life, "adolescence is the only period in which we learn anything". Through sex and stimulants and destructive behaviour amid all the idleness and uncertainty, even these trapped souls experience moments of furious, feral vitality that become alien to us in later life.

In its oddball, fragmentary way, Palo Alto  feels like an authentic portrait of teenage alienation in suburban America: hardly a new subject but one that Franco, with the considerable energies at his disposal, makes vivid and distinctive.

It's not all spiritual emptiness and fury: there are moments of unexpected humour here, too. In the collection's best story, "I Could Kill Someone", a nerdy introvert called Teddy decides to buy a gun and murder his jock nemesis, Brent Bauchner. But Teddy's not your stereotypical high-school killer. "I don't like violence," he insists. "I don't play video games, and I don't go to horror movies. I like Steel Magnolias; I like Sally Field."

The Hollywood star's foray into the literary world may be met with cynicism in some quarters, but this is a promising debut from a most unlikely source.
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Re: The James Franco Project Continues: 'Palo Alto' (the book) by James Franco
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2011, 04:19:11 pm »




James Franco and Michael Cunningham Talk About Youth (Video)
http://www.5min.com/Video/James-Franco-and-Michael-Cunningham-Talk-About-Youth-500510616


"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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"Of course, James was always crying,
always.
I had to kill the cat to save the baby.
Now shut the fuck up about it, boys."

[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA3uIgWovGU[/youtube]
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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"Of course, James was always crying,
always.
I had to kill the cat to save the baby.
Now shut the fuck up about it, boys."

[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA3uIgWovGU[/youtube]


 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
"It was only you in my life, and it will always be only you, Jack, I swear."

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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James Franco
reads his short story
"The Rainbow Goblins"
from his book 'Palo Alto'


Barnes & Noble (Tribeca)
97 Warren Street
New York
Oct 20, 2010



[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VA_t9VKHRk[/youtube]


[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s298EPmphQE&feature=related[/youtube]


[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1KgRfUqPeo&NR=1[/youtube]

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline oilgun

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I received Palo Alto for xmas and just recently finished it.  It's an easy and compelling read.  At first I didn't think much of it (I'm afraid  that the thought "Don't quit your day job" came to mind a few times)  but it really grew on me.  I guess my main complaint is that although each story has a different young narrator,they all have the same voice.  Some pretty dark stuff in there.

Today I was listening to a radio discussion about the Oscar noms and one person basically called James Franco, the new Heath Ledger.

Offline Front-Ranger

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I have thought both of those things several times myself, friend!
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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You can't blame James Franco for making the most of his "moment," but isn't he getting just a little bit overexposed?  ???
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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You can't blame James Franco for making the most of his "moment," but isn't he getting just a little bit overexposed?  ???


I guess he's not worried--he went on the Jon Stewart show last night!


Tuesday January 25, 2011
Intro - James Franco Is Stuck Under the Mini-Fridge
The mini-fridge in the green room came down on James Franco after he tried to get a fun size Snickers bar. (01:50)


http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/tue-january-25-2011-james-franco



Also:



Tuesday January 25, 2011
Daily Show: James Franco
James Franco walked to poetry class after he heard he had received an Oscar nomination for best actor. (06:52)


http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-january-25-2011/james-franco



at 05:24
Jon Stewart:
"The nice thing about having you and Anne Hathaway do it is, you both command respect from the industry--immediately--because of the level of the work you do; I think it's going to be a wonderful thing, and I think it's going to help you."
« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 06:30:38 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
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Online serious crayons

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You can't blame James Franco for making the most of his "moment," but isn't he getting just a little bit overexposed?  ???

My local newspaper looked at each movie and acting nominee and named a pro and con for each. For 127H and JF, it called JF's a "virtuoso solo performance." But also, "Aren't we all a little sick of James Franco?"

Personally, I'm not.


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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My local newspaper looked at each movie and acting nominee and named a pro and con for each. For 127H and JF, it called JF's a "virtuoso solo performance." But also, "Aren't we all a little sick of James Franco?"

 :laugh:
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline oilgun

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Includes a short and hilarious Oscar promo with James & Anne:

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/2011/01/27/hugh_jackman_to_present_at_academy_awards

Embarrasing confession:

Last Friday I had an erotic dream with James Franco!  It wasn't really sexual, just romantic. A bit like that scene in A SINGLE MAN where they are both reading on the sofa.  I loved it! I rarely have such dreams, well not with celebrities anyway. I think the last time was years ago with Johnny Carson of all people. :D

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Embarrasing confession:

Last Friday I had an erotic dream with James Franco!  It wasn't really sexual, just romantic. A bit like that scene in A SINGLE MAN where they are both reading on the sofa.  I loved it! I rarely have such dreams, well not with celebrities anyway. I think the last time was years ago with Johnny Carson of all people. :D


Dream away, Gil--except don't pick your love interest as someone who dies  (never mind yourself!!) before the final frames. Just some judicious re -casting, then you and your beloved celebrity can live on, and have a happy ending. BUT--the re-casting is key. Instead Julia Roberts, let James Franco be the celebrity, and YOU can be the non-celeb, like Mr. Grant--


There you go, problem solved. Now start reading!

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
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Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Meanwhile, I have to meet some
friends this evening--what on earth
am I going to wear??

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
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Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
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Offline oilgun

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I sense a trip to NYC coming up....


Franco Looks Likely to Join Kidman in ‘Sweet Bird of Youth’ on Broadway
[...]
Mr. Franco has recently made public comments that he is set for the play, though Mr. Cromer noted that negotiations were still under way and that no contracts had been signed. Still, Mr. Cromer said he felt optimistic that the production would come together with Mr. Franco starring opposite Nicole Kidman as the faded movie star Alexandra Del Lago.
[...]
“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.”


 :laugh: :laugh:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/franco-looks-likely-to-join-kidman-in-sweet-bird-of-youth-on-broadway/

Offline oilgun

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This would be amazing.  I'm off to the book store...


James Franco Bucks Hard To Land BLOOD MERIDIAN

James Franco has indeed proven himself to be a fine character actor, rather than just another pretty Hollywood face. The dude aims high, and I like that a lot. Franco is putting together an adaption of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, which he hopes to follow up with a screen adaption of Cormac McCarthy's classic and uber-brutal novel of the Old West, Blood Meridian. Apparently Mr. Franco recently filmed a pitch scene, with actors Mark Pelligrino, Scott Glenn, Luke Perry, and Dave Franco (yep, James' brother) in an attempt to let rights holder Scott Rudin know just exactly how serious he is about bringing the tale to the screen.


http://twitchfilm.com/news/2011/01/james-franco-bucks-hard-to-land-blood-meridian.php

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This is from the site Gil just linked. Busy guy!

Film News
James Franco In Talks For OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
by Todd Brown, February 4, 2011 7:09 PM


How much has James Franco's stock risen in Hollywood over the past couple years? Enough that he is currently in talks to take the lead in Sam Raimi's big budget Oz, The Great And Powerful. Yeah, that'd be the Disney backed Oz prequel that initially had Robert Downey Jr in the lead, with the role offered to Johnny Depp when Downey dropped out. With Depp saying no last night the next option - according to The Hollywood Reporter - is James Franco.

While it no doubt helps that Franco has a working history with director Sam Raimi the idea that he would even be considered as the lead for a big budget tentpole film like this and be on casting lists with the likes of Downey and Depp represents a HUGE step up for Franco. This is a major studio saying they believe the versatile lead of Pineapple Express and 127 Hours has what it takes to play with the biggest of the big. And I've got to say that while I find it an odd choice I also think it's a pretty compelling one.


Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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http://carpetbagger.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/james-franco-takes-twitter-by-storm/






James Franco Takes Twitter by Storm
By MELENA RYZIK
February 21, 2011, 12:23 pm


Here’s your Presidents’ Day gift: James Franco’s been on Twitter just a couple days, and he’s already name-dropped about a famous artist (Richard Prince), starred in a video, created a highbrow comic and posted some meme-worthy kitten art.

Mr. Franco finally joined the Twitter service after both his mother and grandmother signed up, posting a video of himself (embedded above) for authenticity’s sake. Of course, that’s not all he’s been doing. Backstage reports from the rehearsals for the Oscars, where he is a host and a nominee, say that he reads whenever he gets the chance. And as we head into Oscars week, Mr. Franco is an in-demand party guest, appearing on the R.S.V.P. lists for several soirées. (His co-host, Anne Hathaway, has not turned up nearly as frequently). He’s also, by the way, opening a show at the Gagosian Gallery, with the director Gus Van Sant. The gallery has few details about the exhibit, except that it’s called, perhaps appropriately, “Unfinished.”

In other multitasking news, “The Simpsons” took on awards season on Sunday, when Bart made an animated short that started earning industry laurels. As Splitsider reports , the real treat was seeing his competition: parodies of “Wallace & Gromit,” “The Triplets of Belleville,” “Persepolis” and of course, “Condiments,” from those geniuses at “Mixar.”


Also posted in Culture Tent's Anne Hathaway, James Franco to host Oscars:
http://bettermost.net/forum/index.php/topic,48336.msg604718/topicseen.html#msg604718
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Now that James is talking about Richard Prince, a favorite artist of Annie Proulx, perhaps somebody might like to look at what I wrote about him in the thread Time, String Theory and Everything.
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/nyregion/04franco.html?_r=1&hp




James Franco Straddles
Two Roles at Yale

By LISA W. FODERARO
Published: March 3, 2011



James Franco, best known as an actor, is also pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Yale. He took a red-eye
flight from Los Angeles after co-hosting the Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway.




Mr. Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted the Oscars on Sunday.


On Sunday night he was in Hollywood, as co-host of the Oscar telecast in black tie. At 9 the next morning, he was in a Starbucks in New Haven, hunched over a book and barely recognizable in a gray sweatshirt, but still wearing his tuxedo pants.

James Franco, movie star, had rushed back on the red-eye to play his other big role: Yale doctoral student. By 9:25, he was at his seat in a seminar on medieval manuscripts. “I was surprised and delighted that he made it to class,” said Jessica Brantley, an associate professor of English. “He’s a dedicated student.”

Mr. Franco seemed to shrug off the bad reviews of what many in the national news media called an inert performance at the Academy Awards show. Yet later on Monday, he pounced on The Yale Daily News  for some mild criticism of his monosyllabic Twitter style, posting a message with an obscenity scrawled in red Photoshop paint.

Yale has had its share of screen-star students, including Jodie Foster and Claire Danes, who have walked a delicate line between visibility and aloofness. But by all accounts, Mr. Franco, 32, who arrived last fall as a full-time student in Yale’s Ph.D. program in English, has straddled the line like no one else — at once the retiring scholar and the focus of attention.

In campus interviews this week, several people said he had worked to keep his new role more of an intense character part than a lead.

“He’s very good at not attracting attention to himself and blending in,” said Michael Warner, chairman of Yale’s English department, whose graduate course on Walt Whitman Mr. Franco took last semester. “He goes down in his charisma, and he looks with thoughtful attention at the people around him and doesn’t display the Hollywood wattage.”

But Mr. Franco, who declined to be interviewed, has hardly escaped the glare of publicity. Student journalists chronicle his every move. Twitter messages breathlessly report sighting him in his habitual hoodie and shades. A student-generated blog, James Franco Has Fun, lampoons all things Franco, soliciting pictures of “James being a crazy dude.”

And the fascination is fed by Mr. Franco himself, a self-promoting — and often self-mocking — polymath who is a film director, screenwriter, painter, author, performance artist and actor, with several film projects under way. In addition to the Yale program, which could take several years, he is on track to earn a master’s degree in film from New York University this spring. (“It’s a full-time program,” an N.Y.U. spokesman said. “You can’t do it any other way.”)

Last year, Mr. Franco received a master’s degree in writing from Brooklyn College, and this semester he is co-teaching a course on film editing at Columbia College Hollywood, a private school in Los Angeles. It is called “Master Class: Editing James Franco — With James Franco.”

Even at Yale, home of overachievers, he stands out. He has found time to undertake a multimedia musical production with about four dozen undergraduates that will open on campus in April. He is listed as a producer, but has worked with students on all aspects of the show, “The Stargazer,” including casting, making script revisions and acting in the film elements.



James Franco answered questions from Yale students in
October after a screening of "Howl," one of his movies.



“We’re all really fascinated and awed,” said Cokey Cohen, the columnist at The Yale Daily News  who drew Mr. Franco’s ire. “To see someone who has what we all consider to have an ideal life — with a fun, successful career — to be voluntarily doing so much schoolwork all the time is both really admirable and something I can’t even comprehend.”

Dr. Warner said the actor’s academic ambitions were impressive. “We have had experience before with students pursuing parallel degrees,” he said, “although the scale of his obligations is something that we’ve never seen before — but who has?”

Among students, attitudes run the gamut, from indifference to curiosity to full-blown obsession. Ileana Lucos, 21, an environmental studies major, said she and her friends were on high alert for news of Mr. Franco’s whereabouts.

“Definitely, the girls are like, ‘Oh, my God, I just saw him!’ ” she said. At Yale, she explained, “you have politically famous or otherwise famous, but not like a movie star that is Hollywood famous.”

“I don’t know,” she continued. “There’s something about him that’s mysterious.”

Others have had enough. “It doesn’t make a difference to my experience here,” said Stacey Diaz, 22, who has a double major, in international studies and African studies. “I think it’s weird that people are so wrapped up in following his every move.”

For his part, Mr. Franco strikes a balance between staying “almost under cover,” as Dr. Warner put it, and indulging his fans. This week he posted pictures online from inside his room at the Study at Yale, a boutique hotel where he stays when not commuting to his apartment in New York.

At Atticus Bookstore Café, where he stops in a few mornings a week for coffee, the general manager, Ben Gaffney, said Mr. Franco usually took a table in the back, books in tow. “He doesn’t come in to socialize,” he said. “Girls go up and blush and giggle and say, ‘Hi.’ He just smiles and nods his head.”

Still, Mr. Franco is clearly not your average graduate student. Last semester, when he and Dr. Warner needed time to discuss a paper, Mr. Franco’s personal assistant helped arrange an unusual solution.

“The only time we could find time to talk was during a train ride from New York to New Haven,” said Dr. Warner, who splits his time between the two. “So I met him on Metro-North.”

Jorge Castillo contributed reporting from New Haven.
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
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Online serious crayons

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I don't get you, James Franco del Mar.


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ME (to 16-year-old): Did you hear that James Franco made it to class at Yale at 9 a.m. the day after hosting the Oscars?

SON: He's a dilligent boy.

ME: It's not so much that he made it across the country. Of course it's possible to get from LA to New Haven overnight. But it's that he thought it was that important -- he didn't use "I just hosted the Oscars" as an excuse to skip class.

SON: Mm-hmm.

ME: And did you know he's also earning a master's at NYU? A full-time program?

SON: An ambitious young man.

ME: Oh, and that during the same time he also starred in one movie, appeared in several others, wrote a book, had an art exhibit at --

SON: -- learned heart surgery, yadda yadda yadda!!! OK!!!!



Hmm. Do you think I might have overplayed the Franco card?  :laugh:



Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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ME (to 16-year-old): Did you hear that James Franco made it to class at Yale at 9 a.m. the day after hosting the Oscars?

SON: He's a dilligent boy.

ME: It's not so much that he made it across the country. Of course it's possible to get from LA to New Haven overnight. But it's that he thought it was that important -- he didn't use "I just hosted the Oscars" as an excuse to skip class.

SON: Mm-hmm.

ME: And did you know he's also earning a master's at NYU? A full-time program?

SON: An ambitious young man.

ME: Oh, and that during the same time he also starred in one movie, appeared in several others, wrote a book, had an art exhibit at --

SON: -- learned heart surgery, yadda yadda yadda!!! OK!!!!



Hmm. Do you think I might have overplayed the Franco card?  :laugh:

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:



Katherine, you are a good  Mom!


(Now, I have to run to meet my AutoCad II tutor at FIT--seriously, no joke--or I am going to be late! No tuxedo pants, though. My movie? My book? My song cycle cum art performance piece with Kalup Linzy? It's coming, it's coming, I'm sure of it!   ::) ::) ::) )
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


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Has the Spiderman Musical opened yet? Otherwise, we knew who they should call...


and how about world peace? Eh, James?

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http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/03/watch_dave_franco_and_chris_mi.html

By: Kyle Buchanan
3/9/11 at 6:50 PM

Watch Dave Franco Seduce Christopher Mintz-Plasse Still, it'll take more than this for Dave to top his brother James when it comes to on-screen homoeroticism.


You're So Hot
Christopher Mintz-Plasse vs Dave Franco



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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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On the whole, I prefer James Marsden.  ;)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

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http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2011/12/james_franco_at_yale_franco_s_professor_speaks_.single.html


What It’s Like To Be
James Franco’s Professor

His English professor at Yale reveals that the actor rarely missed a
discussion, even when filming in Detroit.

By R. John Williams
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, at 5:38 PM ET



What is James Franco like as a reader of scholarly work?
 

When I read that an NYU professor was allegedly fired for giving James Franco a “D,” I was shocked for several reasons. First, that any college could be so stupid as to fire a professor for not giving a good grade seems ridiculous, so much so that I imagine there will be an enormous burden of proof on the part of the accuser even if it is true. Second, I was shocked that James got a “D” for not attending class. I doubt that assertion shocked anyone else, since James is often written about as though he were coasting through the system, playing off the college “cred” he gets by enrolling in as many programs as possible. But I’ve been James’ professor, and it struck me as highly uncharacteristic for him to just “blow off class,” as several articles are suggesting.      

When I was assigned to be James Franco’s adviser in the English department at Yale, I was not exactly sure what to think. I was not on the admissions committee that had enrolled him, and to be perfectly honest, I’d never read anything he’d written. (I had, of course, seen a few James Franco films, but who hasn’t?) I am also fairly new at Yale, and so was not sure what sort of “advice” I could offer beyond, I guess, “study hard, and good luck.” When he came to my office, he was already deep into classes on Romanticism, Walt Whitman, and modern American literature. He had also just received an Oscar nomination. James’ personal assistant had called the day before to ask if I could meet in the afternoon, rather than the morning, since he had been invited onto the Colbert Report that day. I was flexible, and happy to accommodate, but remember feeling a little stunned at having to speak with one of my students in such a Hollywood manner—his people calling my people.

In any case, he looked exhausted, but was respectful, interested, and eager to find out more about how he could pursue his interests in both film and literature during his time at Yale. Directed reading is a fairly common practice in graduate school that allows small groups of students with more specific interests to pair up with a professor and read through a list of texts, more or less like a seminar, but with less lecture and more discussion. Over the next few months we agreed on the topic of film language and drew up a list of important texts on film history and theory all dealing with the question of film as a kind of language or grammar. Another graduate student, Matt Rager, also expressed interest in joining us, and so, last August we began meeting once a week to discuss our readings. [Read James Franco’s film language reading list.]

The catch was that this was also the semester that James was going to be in Detroit filming for the new Disney blockbuster Oz, the Great and Powerful, which meant he wasn’t going to be able to meet with Matt and me in New Haven. However, I didn’t feel comfortable carrying on a Ph.D-earning conversation over the phone each week, and so I told him he’d have to agree to take the time away from whatever he was doing (which just happened to be shooting a multimillion dollar film) and at least have a video conference call for several hours each week. Otherwise, it just wasn’t going to work. I would have expected as much from any other graduate student. He was more than happy to do so, and over the course of our reading I imagine he enraged more than one Disney executive in adhering faithfully to our scheduled “meetings.”

One week, however, the Oz shoot went over schedule and he was stuck on set. Rather than answering the texts from his personal assistant about the possibility of rescheduling, Matt and I carried on the discussion without him. Later, when James meekly offered to meet with me another time to make up the session, I declined and told him, “I respect your effort to test the boundaries of what is humanly possible within normal space and time, but this is one of those boundaries. You’ve got to meet when we agree to meet.” But that happened only once over the course of the semester and James was remarkably punctual to every other discussion. He always came prepared, and at one point even followed through on our scheduled meeting from Palo Alto where he was attending his father’s funeral. That’s right—he actually did the reading and scheduled discussion the same week his father suddenly died. "I'd still like to have the discussion," he said when I realized that he was preparing for a funeral and offered to postpone. "My dad was very proud that I was at Yale, so this is what he'd want." Blowing off class? I certainly would have blown it off under similar circumstances.  

I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been interesting, even thrilling, to be studying film theory with James Franco. When, for example, we were reading Jerome Christensen’s America’s Corporate Art: The Studio Authorship of Hollywood Motion Pictures,  it occurred to all of us that there was probably no better environment to see Christensen’s theory in action than on the set where James was currently working. So, for one of our weekly meetings, Matt and I flew to Detroit. (I paid for both tickets, since I didn’t want Matt to miss out and I didn’t feel right letting James pay for it.) Having studied film for so many years, it was breathtaking to see it happening on such a grand scale. Imagine six Costco-sized warehouses, each one fitted with enormous blue-screen walls and gigantic sets: yellow brick roads, emerald cities, poppy forests, flying monkeys, little people, and on and on.

So what is James like as a reader of scholarly work? I’ve often heard it expressed that he must be a mountebank, since no single person could be doing as many things as he does. How could he possibly be simultaneously reading for a Yale Ph.D and filming a multimillion-dollar motion picture? How could he possibly have time to write anything when he’s also teaching a class at NYU and starring so many films? I’ve wondered the same thing myself. But on that trip to Detroit, I learned a secret. People think that when you’re the star of a film, your time must be chock-full with endless minutia—appearances, conversations, getting “into character,” and so on. But when you’re the star, you end up just sitting around a lot. For a single shot to take place, for instance, a whole series of organized events have to be set in motion: The 3D crew has to gauge the shot, the cinematographer has to line up the camera, the lighting crew has to arrange its lights and shades, the set has to be rearranged or otherwise moved into place, the wardrobe and hair departments have to prepare the actors—and through all of this, the actor just sits and waits. In fact, actors will often sit and wait so for so long that “body doubles” will sometimes be hired just to sit and wait in the appropriate place for the actors. So when you see James’s character with his arm trapped under a rock in 127 Hours,  what you don’t see is that there was an assigned reading under the rock with it.  When he’s playfully wrestling with a genetically-enhanced chimpanzee in Rise of the Planet of the Apes,  just off to the right of the shot was a stack of books.

The truth is, if you’re an A-list Hollywood star like James Franco, and are willing to put the time into earning a Ph.D, you may actually have more time to read than many of your colleagues. Heck, you don’t even have to worry about the grocery shopping, laundry, and other sundry tasks that every other poor graduate student in the country has to worry about. After visiting Detroit, the thing I found myself wondering was not “How does James do it?” but rather “Why aren’t more Hollywood actors earning Ph.Ds?”

I’m no longer surprised, then, when James comes online for our chat and has not only done the assigned reading, but gone ahead and read a few extra texts as well, watched a few extra films, seen the DVD “special features,” and is prepared with several written pages on what we’re studying. So while a lot of actors turn to knitting, James Franco is becoming a scholar, and I suggest we take him seriously. Pay attention to that man behind the curtain. He’s doing a lot of reading.
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Wondering When the Schadenfreude Bus Arrives Dep't:


http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2012/01/james-franco-sold-his-first-novel.html

James Franco
Sold His First Novel

By Amanda Dobbins
Today at 6:00 PM




The busiest movie star-performance artist-writer-grad student-dreamboat in the business has apparently found time to attempt another literary opus. (Palo Alto,  is collection of short stories, was published in 2010 to less-than-enthusiastic reviews.) Franco has sold Actors Anonymous to Amazon's publishing division; the novel will reportedly be "a fictionalized version of Mr. Franco’s experiences as an actor." So not only do we get a new piece of Franco meta art to obsess over, but we also get to play the Blind Item game with basically every actor or director that Franco has ever worked with! There are gonna be some great angry boulder stories in this one, for sure.
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Front-Ranger

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I watched East of Eden tonight. James Dean reminded me so much of James Franco...it was uncanny!
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline oilgun

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I watched East of Eden tonight. James Dean reminded me so much of James Franco...it was uncanny!

James Franco potrayed Dean in a TV(?) movie a while back.  It was a break-through role for him.

He's been active on facebook lately.  But not on Twitter.

Offline Front-Ranger

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No kidding? I'll have to look for it. There's no way to keep up with all that man does!!
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: James and James, Franco & Dean; East of Eden
« Reply #53 on: February 21, 2012, 02:41:58 pm »
I watched East of Eden tonight. James Dean reminded me so much of James Franco...it was uncanny!

Since it was a Steinbeck story, maybe I should have said it was uncannery!! (sorry for my juvenile nerd humor!)

Speaking of Steinbeck, how did he bear the butchering of his story by Hollywood? I don't suppose there is any fear of spoilers in my next comments, since the movie came out in the 1950s! First of all, a major character named Lee who was involved in some of the main plot points, served as narrator, and provided the voice of wisdom in the book doesn't even appear anywhere in the movie!! (Me being named Lee, you can see how I'm a little upset by this) And Salinas appears to have been wrenched from the San Joaquin Valley of California and plopped down beside the sea! Also, the evil mother Kate turns into a benefactor for Caleb which makes it ridiculous when other characters show fear and revulsion towards her. I wonder if the butchering of Steinbeck's work (as well as that of Hemingway and Faulkner) is one of the reasons Proulx has been so wary of lending rights to her stories to be made into films.

Now I just consulted imdb, which says that Steinbeck was happy with the film! Primarily, I gather it was because Elia Kazan, the director, was a friend of his and because he thought James Dean was perfectly cast as Cal.

I also learned that Kazan had originally envisioned Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift for the roles of Cal and his twin brother Aron. But they were in their 30s, too old to play teenagers. But Paul Newman, one year younger than Brando, made it to the final casting tests, being filmed with James Dean in a screen test that still exists. Julie Harris won the role of Abra, the sons' love interest, even though she was a decade older than she was supposed to be. Richard Davalos in his screen debut played the part of Aron. I wonder what if anything he did after that.

Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: James and James, Franco & Dean; East of Eden
« Reply #54 on: February 21, 2012, 03:56:24 pm »
James Franco potrayed Dean in a TV(?) movie a while back.  It was a break-through role for him.


You're right as usual, Gil. It was called just James Dean, was shown in 2001, and Franco won a Golden GLobe and Screen Actors Guild award for his performance! I'll have to seek that one out.

Meanwhile, there's a movie coming out this year about Dean's hidden gay life, I understand.
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline oilgun

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Check out his new website!

http://www.jamesfrancotv.com/


Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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http://www.vulture.com/2012/03/watch-a-semi-nude-psa-from-dave-franco.html


Watch a Semi-Nude PSA From Dave Franco
Those Franco boys certainly like to take their clothes off.
Merely factual, not a complaint!


By Kyle Buchanan
Yesterday at 6:25 PM


[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVVqM7Zilfo&feature[/youtube]
Uploaded by Complexmagazine on Mar 13, 2012


"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
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Offline Sophia

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http://www.vulture.com/2012/03/watch-a-semi-nude-psa-from-dave-franco.html


Watch a Semi-Nude PSA From Dave Franco
Those Franco boys certainly like to take their clothes off.
Merely factual, not a complaint!


By Kyle Buchanan
Yesterday at 6:25 PM


[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVVqM7Zilfo&feature[/youtube]
Uploaded by Complexmagazine on Mar 13, 2012




 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:


Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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James Franco
on the set of
"Spring Breakers"--
Oh my!


(And why am I thinking
he is NOT playing a professor of literature
in this movie?)
 :o















"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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God, I feel like I should be taking notes!

 :laugh: :laugh:
http://www.vulture.com/2012/04/james-franco-reveals-how-hes-so-productive.html


James Franco Reveals
How He’s So Productive

By Alexandra Peers
Today at 6:30 PM





In June 2010, James Franco held an art exhibition in Tribeca chock full of photography, sketches, video, and sculpture. It was the type of scattershot project that has led some to call him the ultimate toe-dipper. Yet his new book, The Dangerous Book Four Boys  – which is actually the exhibition catalogue from that show – indicates that it might be some form of artistic ADD, rather than dilettantism, that afflicts Franco. In the book, out next week from Rizzoli, Franco reinterprets his art show, scrawling all over the pages with notes and annotations like some cracked-out grad student. (Which he sort of is, given all the universities he’s been enrolled in recently.)
 
On Thursday night, James Franco was in New York for a discussion and signing of his book at Manhattan’s absurdly exclusive Core Club, a private club located in an east Midtown office building. If the book’s title sounds familiar, it should. Franco used as source material the 2007 British bestseller The Dangerous Book for Boys  that takes a nostalgic look at male childhood with such lessons as how to tie a knot and how to find true north. I was “loosely inspired by that other book,” the suited actor explained, while lounging in the club’s private theater. “I guess you could say it was a fucked-up version of that.”
 
P.S. 1 founder Alanna Heiss, who ran the discussion and curated the 2010 show, quizzed him in front of a packed house about his artistic inspirations, the choices he made in the show, and the images he included in the book that reference his own boyhood. Speaking of one creepy image, which appeared to picture a terribly wounded man, Franco explained that when he was 12, he and some friends “burned some of our G.I. Joes as a comment on what was going on in the Gulf War at the time.”
 
In another image, taken from his video “Dicknose in Paris,” Franco wears a prosthetic penis prop from his film Milk  on his nose. (Think a rubbery elephant’s trunk with sagging purplish balls). “Franco looks completely different with a penis on his nose,” Heiss noted. This is true. He does. Franco wisely declined to comment on that observation.
 
Heiss explained that Franco worked on the book while filming 127 Hours  and that she, along with Franco and the book’s publisher and editor, prepared it together. Then, they sent it to him and there was " ‘The Franco Intervention’ … as if a boy were drawing on those pages.” Virtually every page is “defaced” or commented on by the star – scribbles, scrawls, arrows, diagrams, hastily sketched hearts.
 
At night’s end, after a long line of co-eds had given him their names to write in their books and asked for advice on being actors, on school, or just generally giggled, Franco inadvertently revealed the secret of his success. Shutting the last exhibition catalogue, he sighed and said: “Last night, I slept three hours.”


"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Online serious crayons

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Quote
“Franco looks completely different with a penis on his nose,” Heiss noted.

Astute observation.


Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline ifyoucantfixit

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Re: James and James, Franco & Dean; East of Eden
« Reply #63 on: April 14, 2012, 10:52:59 am »
You're right as usual, Gil. It was called just James Dean, was shown in 2001, and Franco won a Golden GLobe and Screen Actors Guild award for his performance! I'll have to seek that one out.

Meanwhile, there's a movie coming out this year about Dean's hidden gay life, I understand.

  You know every time one of these movies come out so many years after the death of a person.  I wonder about them.  So much is
said, or intimated, and gossiped about in Hollywood.  Then as now much of it untruth and some of course well known.  It is always hard
for me to take this stuff totally on face value.  I think lots of these things are revisionist life stories.  I am not saying one way or the other
about this one in particular.  I am just saying, I am always rather suspect of the reasons and intents behind them...
  If a story is well known by intimates, and close friends.  They then tell about it after the person is gone.  I think that is probably a true thing. Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift were very very close.  She always knew of his sexual orientation.  So did many others. They had starred together in their first big hollywood movie as adults.   A Place in the Sun..  So it was not a shock when the truth was revealed.  However I was a huge fan of James Dean, and as most teenagers did and still do.  Kept up with everything about him.  I heard about his love affair with a young Italian actress, named Pier Angeli, who had moved here right after the war.  I know he and she were together some of the time.  He may or may not have had gay lovers as well.  Some mentioned Sal Mineo, who was gay, and
was killed.  They were very close, but no one knew if it was because of a friendship that developed when working on Revel Without a Cause, or if there was more to it.  Then He and Clift were also very close.  He worked on Giant also, with Elizabeth, and coincidentally Rock Hudson,  who was also gay. 
   All I am saying is that there has been speculation in many quarters about lots of famous actors, who may have been gay.  They may have been bi, or straight.  No one can say now.  It is too late, and most of the people are gone, and lots of the people that would relate such things are suspect themselves, because of the money they may make as a result of telling their own vision of history or as I choose to call it.  Revisionist history. 
   Maybe it is all because I am such a cynic about such things?  I don't know.  All I am saying, is that you have to view most of these kinds of things with a jaundiced eye.  They may be true and one hundred percent factual.  However they may be entirely made up.
   I do still love James Franco.  Even if his professor does say he sleeps in class.      :)








     Beautiful mind

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Omg, I never realized, until a friend
told me today--You Know Who and I
share a birthday!!
(Unfortunately, the only thing--unlike other things, such as
Youth, Beauty, and Brains--oh well!   :laugh: :laugh: )


James Edward Franco
April 19, 1978 (age 34)

            
Happy Birthday, Youngster!

             ;D


« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 09:27:59 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
I wonder how come he doesn't have a role in Magic Mike. He does just about everything else.  8)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
I've never particularly cared for James Franco, especially with facial hair, but he looks really good in the Toyota car commercials that are currently playing on TV.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

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I've never particularly cared for James Franco, especially with facial hair, but he looks really good in the Toyota car commercials that are currently playing on TV.

I'll have to look for them. I rarely watch TV with commercials, and when I do I usually fast-forward through them. But that one I would watch, just as I watched the Matthew McConaughey ones for whatever car that was. (Lincoln?)

I think he's easy on the eyes, even with small amounts of facial hair, and a good actor, and evidently intelligent. But I find his personality slightly annoying.

UPDATE: I thought, why wait? I'll just google it now. So I found it on a USA Today page and of course, videos being what they are today, I had to watch a commercial before I could watch the commercial.  ::)

Anyway, yeah, he's lookin' pretty good. In both outfits. Though I'll have to say that the commercial leverages the aspect of James Franco's personality that I find slightly annoying: the "aren't I brilliant and arty and quirky and complex and fascinating?" part.


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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I'll have to look for them. I rarely watch TV with commercials, and when I do I usually fast-forward through them. But that one I would watch, just as I watched the Matthew McConaughey ones for whatever car that was. (Lincoln?)

Yes, it was Lincoln.

Quote
I think he's easy on the eyes, even with small amounts of facial hair, and a good actor, and evidently intelligent. But I find his personality slightly annoying.

UPDATE: I thought, why wait? I'll just google it now. So I found it on a USA Today page and of course, videos being what they are today, I had to watch a commercial before I could watch the commercial.  ::)

Anyway, yeah, he's lookin' pretty good. In both outfits. Though I'll have to say that the commercial leverages the aspect of James Franco's personality that I find slightly annoying: the "aren't I brilliant and arty and quirky and complex and fascinating?" part.

Did you see both of them, the one with the lumberjacks and the one with the wolves?
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

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Did you see both of them, the one with the lumberjacks and the one with the wolves?

Neither! I saw one where he was simultaneously driving an elegant car wearing a tuxedo (a la McConaughey) and a casual car wearing a jean jacket. The scene went back and forth until the two cars met up on a beach and each James Franco got out and ripped off his clothes to reveal ... a tuxedo under the jean jacket and a jean jacket under the tuxedo.




Offline Jeff Wrangler

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  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
Neither! I saw one where he was simultaneously driving an elegant car wearing a tuxedo (a la McConaughey) and a casual car wearing a jean jacket. The scene went back and forth until the two cars met up on a beach and each James Franco got out and ripped off his clothes to reveal ... a tuxedo under the jean jacket and a jean jacket under the tuxedo.

 ???  How odd! I haven't seen that one at all, only the two I mentioned, one with lumberjacks and one with wolves.  ???
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline CellarDweller

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I don't think I've seen any of them.


Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: ''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
Will you play my record? One-track mind!

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
Re: The James Franco Project Continues
« Reply #72 on: January 25, 2016, 10:55:03 am »
I admit that not being a James Franco fan, at first I didn't realize it was him. Then I began to think that the guy in the commercial looked familiar. Then I thought to myself, "He looks like James Franco." Then I finally heard the voice-over narrator refer to him as "James," and I went, "D-u-u-u-h. ..."

 :laugh:
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

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I don't think I've seen any of them.

If you have any interest, no need to wait for them to show up on your TV!  :)



Offline CellarDweller

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I'll check them out later today.


Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: ''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
Will you play my record? One-track mind!