EXCLUSIVE: James Franco, thriving as an actor in mainstream dramas, comedies, micro-budget indies, and soaps, is back on the laugh track.
He is attached to play the title role in the Jeff Bushell-scripted comedy Ricky Stanicky. Summit Entertainment is negotiating to finance the movie. The premise: a couple of pals who invented a fake friend they employ when they want to get away from their spouses get called on their BS when the wives insist on meeting Ricky Stanicky at a party they are throwing. The guys hire an actor (Franco) to play Stanicky. Michael De Luca is producing with John Jacobs. Bushell wrote Beverly Hills Chihuahua. WME is brokering the deal.
The Summit deal comes just after Franco committed to spend the summer emoting in the ABC soap General Hospital, reprising as the bad boy performance artist, Franco.
Franco, who has moved seamlessly from Spider-Man to Milk and Pineapple Express, is putting together the most schizophrenic resume of any major actor since Johnny Depp turned his focus to tent pole films. There is early buzz on Franco’s performance as Aron Ralston–the hiker who cut off his arm with a dull knife to save his life– in 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire follow-up which Fox Searchlight will release during Oscar season. On the indie track, the Sundance Festival drama Howl will be released in September by Oscilloscope, with Franco starring as Allen Ginsberg. And after a great cameo in Date Night, Franco’s next comedy starring vehicle is Your Highness, a re-team with Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green that Universal releases next April. Franco’s also in the screen adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, playing one of the men Julia Roberts goes through in a mid-life crisis jaunt.
And then of course there is his work in General Hospital, where his Franco character will pick up where he left off, continuing his obsessive vendetta against Jason, a clash that has placed the hospital in peril, and shaken up the citizenry of Port Charles. ABC promises a “chilling climax,” with viewers “treated to performance art the likes of which they’ve never seen before.”