There’s a gigantic billboard that’s gone up on Sunset Boulevard towering over the Chateau Marmont. It’s for a James Franco art exhibit that opens officially on Saturday at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. Yes, the same James Franco who’s co-hosting the Academy Awards on Sunday and is taking classes at Yale and the Rhode Island School of Design. And who’s nominated for an Oscar for “127 Hours.”
Franco’s art exhibit is called “Unfinished” and is a collaboration with his “Milk” director, Gus van Sant. (“Milk” producer Bruce Cohen, who’s co-producing the Oscars, convinced Franco to do the show also.) There’s no description of the show yet, and the whole thing is a mystery beyond the sole photograph of the back of actor River Phoenix’s head, wearing sunglasses, taken by van Sant during the making of “My Own Private Idaho.”
All of the “unfinished” is actually paintings by van Sant and still photography from “Idaho,” a movie that Franco is obsessed with. He told me this afternoon, on a break from classes, that he and van Sant went back and watched all the dailies from “Idaho.” Gucci put up the money, van Sant got a deal, and now all the unused material from “Idaho” is digitized and assembled. van Sant even gave Franco a copy.
The show will be unveiled on Thursday night at the Gagosian Gallery, followed by a usual suspects dinner at Mr. Chow’s. On Friday night, there’s some more unveiling of some kind, followed by a sneak party at Franco’s new watering hole, The Writer’s Room, which apparently is right now under construction in Hollywood.