Sunday, May 19, 2024

James Franco Preps Feature Film Directing Debut


Book publishing isn’t always a snore. Take, for example, James Franco‘s reading last night at the Barnes & Noble on Warren Street. It was such a hit that Franco wound up reading not one but two short stories–30 pages in all. If the largely female audience had prevailed, Franco would still be there now. That’s because he signed 400 copies of his “Palo Alto” collection in one hour, and spoke to everyone who showed up.

Later, Franco’s agent, Richard Abate, co-hosted a small dinner for Franco with at the Waverly Inn with his famed editor/publisher Nan Graham of Scribner’s, and another prosperous author–Chuck Hogan, whose novel “Prince of Thieves” became Ben Affleck‘s great movie, “The Town.”

A lot of the talk at the table was about Franco’s load of school work. And his amazing work out put! Guess what? While waiting for Danny Boyle‘s “127 Hours” and going to Yale, Franco is going to start shooting his own feature film in two weeks. He’s written a script from a biography of poet Hart Crane called “The Broken Tower.” Franco will direct from his script in and around the New York area. At least one actor has been mentioned for the cast: Oscar nominee Michael Shannon, who is also going into an Off Broadway play soon.

How’s he going to do it? I don’t know. I’m exhausted thinking about it. Here’s a clue: at dinner every one had a glass of wine, and Nan Graham — a highly respected literary editor– made a beautiful toast. Franco had a Diet Coke. He was also first to leave, literally wiping sleep from his eyes while the rest of the table chatted away. So he’s human, and smart.

PS I really liked Chuck Hogan. What a nice guy, from the Boston suburbs, but completely devoid of the Boston accent that marks his characters. He was a little envious of Franco’s female following at the book store. “Most of my readers are guys,” he told me. “That’s great, but…” When he heard that “someone” popular named Blake Lively was a fan a couple of years ago, he was thrilled to find out Blake was a “She” not a “he”!

With “The Town” and “127 Hours” headed to Oscar land this winter, what a table! And in the main at the Waverly: Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick with pal, actor John Benjamin Hickey–he’s a hit playing Laura Linney’s brother on “The Big C.”

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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