EXCLUSIVE: James Franco, bound for Sundance to promote several projects, has just set another. He will star in and direct Beautiful People, a bio-pic of charismatic playboy and visionary Jay Sebring, the jet-setting hairstylist to the stars in the 1960s, who died violently at the hands of the clan led by Charles Manson. The screenplay, written by Lauren Wild, was brought to Franco by David Bortolucci of Jane and Sheppard Productions, who will be producing with Julie Yorn of LBI Entertainment. Franco will also produce, along with his RabbitBandini Productions partners Miles Levy and Vince Jolivette.

The film charts the rise of Sebring as a self-created men’s grooming pioneer, as he climbed the social ladder in Hollywood during the 60s. There is also a focus on his romantic relationship with the beautiful young actress Sharon Tate. Both Tate and Sebring were victims of the notorious murder spree of the cult led by Manson.

Franco hits Park City for Interior. Leather Bar, which he co-directed, the fetish docu Kink he produced, and Lovelace (in which he costars). The actor, who’ll next be seen in Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great And Powerful and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, continues to be impossible to typecast. But he’s a spitting image of the tress-master Sebring. Franco recently directed film adaptations of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Cormac McCarthy’s Child Of God. He is repped by CAA, James Levy Management and attorney Warren Dern. Paradigm reps Wild.