Wednesday, May 22, 2024

James Franco Goes into Business with Dave Eggers


Here’s today’s James Franco business update.

Yesterday it was anounced that he’s optioned a book called “The Adderall Diaries,” which he may produce and star in.

Today’s news, exclusive here: Franco has sold all his short films to writer Dave Eggers’s DVD series for McSweeneys called Wholphin.

McSweeneys is a cult literary magazine and website run by Eggers, who’s also a cult writer and author of a couple of bestsellers. (“Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”) Think of the McSweeneys world as the anti-New Yorker for people who think Brooklyn is cool. It’s also for people who use the word ‘dude’ a lot.

Eggers is a cool dude who runs several programs out of McSweeneys including a series to help schoolkids learn to read. So Franco is doing a documentary about that program, which McSweeneys will then release along with all of Franco’s short films and documentaries–except of the course his “Saturday Night Live” documentary, which was sold to Oscilloscope.

Meanwhile. Franco’s book of short stories, called “Palo Alto,” and published by Scribners this month, is getting very positive reviews from the book trade. And while the snarky blogs are probably gunning for it, “Palo Alto” is indeed a serious and well wrought group of short stories that cannot be glibly dismissed as the work of a dilettante movie star.

“Palo Alto” contains a bunch of loosely linked stories about adolescents–ages 13 to 17–trapped in a adult-less world of violence, sex, and alcohol. One story in particular is sure to get some attention as it focuses on a gang rape of a young girl by several boys and sodomy with vegetables.

Indeed there is a lot of teenage sex here, and plenty of violence and drug taking to go with it. But this is no “Less than Zero.” Franco is not celebrating these things as Brett Easton Ellis did. Under a sheen of apathy, there’s a lot of pain. Franco creates a kind of suburban underworld that is absolutely riveting. “Palo Alto” is unforgettable. And you certainly won’t associate it with Silicon Valley billionaires after reading these stories.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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