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James Franco will direct and star as Shel Silverstein in a film adaptation of Lisa Rogak’s A Boy Named Shel. The American writer and poet is known for a number of children’s books, including The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends, and the novel written about his life explores the author’s unyielding wanderlust (as well as his close relationship and history with Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Mansion).
Not unlike his stories, Silverstein was a man of adventure. But aside from the stories he wrote that were aimed at a younger audience, Silverstein traveled often, wooed women regularly, and was a firm believer in collaboration. In fact, the first collaboration that propelled him into fame was through Playboy. He would draw cartoons for the magazine, and from there his notoriety began to grow. He would later go on to write scripts with David Mamet, songs that would go on to win Grammys, and a pedigree of books that ranked him alongside other poetic maestros like Edward Lear and Roald Dahl.
THR is reporting that screenwriting duo Chris Schafer and Paul Vicknair (who are both adapting the upcoming Naruto movie) will pen the screenplay, though it is currently unclear when Franco will start production, considering his congested schedule.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein James Franco to Direct & Star in Shel Silverstein Biopic
Aside from various upcoming projects, Franco is currently in the middle of promoting The Disaster Artist, which he stars in and directed. The film is an adaptation of Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s novel of the same name that documents the laughable, but legendary, production of Tommy Wiseau’s cult-classic The Room.
The production and marketing of The Disaster Artist has been an exploration in meta filmmaking, with Franco not only recreating nearly a half hour of The Room, but copying the original LA billboard for Wiseau’s film. Wiseau spent a reported $300,000 on that single piece of advertisement alone, and Franco replicated it almost exactly. Whether or not Franco will carry over a similar meta approach to the Silverstein biopic remains to be seen, but Franco-philes likely wouldn’t object to seeing what he might offer in the fictional short story department.
Franco, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours (also based on a true story), is already an awards shoo-in this year for The Disaster Artist. He won Best Actor at the Gotham Awards, and was nominated for a Satellite Award and Film Independent Spirit Award in the same category.