James Franco Starrer ‘I Am Michael’ to Be Released by Brainstorm Media

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Written and directed by Justin Kelly, the film tells the true story of a gay activist who became a straight Christian pastor.
Brainstorm Media, the Beverly Hills-based indie distributor, has acquired writer-director Justin Kelly’s I Am Michael, starring James Franco, Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts, which it will open theatrically Jan. 27 in 10 markets along with a day-and-date VOD release.

Based on a New York Times magazine article by Benoit Denizet-Lewis, the film, which debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, tells the true story of Michael Glatze, played by Franco, who was a high-profile gay youth activist who provoked controversy when he became a straight Christian pastor and claimed he was no longer gay. Quinto plays Glatze’s boyfriend, while Roberts plays the woman who becomes his girlfriend

“I Am Michael is an incredibly original film on a very important topic: identity. As we move into a new presidency where sexual orientation might once again be called into question, a film that examines this from such an unusual perspective is invaluable. I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Franco, who also collaborated with Kelly on the recently released King Cobra.

The film was executive produced by Gus Van Sant and produced by Franco and Vince Jolivette of production company Rabbit Bandini, Michael Mendelsohn of Patriot Pictures, and Scott Reed and Ron Singer of That’s Hollywood. The picture was financed by Mendelsohn’s Union Patriot Capital Management, LLC.

The deal was negotiated by Brian O’Shea of The Exchange, Michelle Shwarzstein for Brainstorm Media and Mendelsohn. DADA Films will handle theatrical booking and Required Viewing will handle PR on behalf of Brainstorm.

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James Franco Signs With UTA

James Franco has a new agency home. The busy multihyphenate and Oscar-nominated actor has signed with UTA.His longtime rep Kami Putnam-Heist left CAA last month for a manager role at Anonymous Content, putting Franco into play. WME and UTA had been vying for his services, and the latter won out. He’ll be repped by a team of agents at UTA, while Putnam-Heist continues to manage him.

The prolific actor-director-writer-producer-author has worked on slew of projects in various capacities during the past decade. Since scoring a Best Actor Oscar nom for playing a trapped mountain climber in 2010’s 127 Hours, Franco has branched into filmmaking while continuing to rack up acting credits. His recent onscreen roles have ranged from Child of God, which he also wrote and directed, to In Dubious Battle, which he helmed. Along the way he also has starred in such pics as The Interview, This Is the End and Oz the Great and Powerful. Among his many acting projects in the pipeline are Why Him?, which opens next month, and Kin, also starring Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz and Dennis Quaid, which Lionsgate pre-bought ahead of Toronto.

On the TV side, Franco appeared in Hulu’s 11.22.63, recurred on TBS’ Angie Tribeca and stars in HBO’s upcoming NYC-set period drama The Deuce.

Deadline reported exclusively in September that Franco is teaming with Damian Gregory to produce a quartet of features in the $15 million-$20 million budget range, starting with The Game, an adaptation of the nonfiction book about how to become a successful pick-up artist.

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James Franco Is Riff Raff in the New “Only in America” Video Read More: James Franco Is Riff Raff in the New ‘Only in America’ Video

James Franco famously played a Riff Raff-inspired character in the 2012 film Spring Breakers. Now, he is playing the genuine article. Franco takes on the role of Riff Raff for the Houston rapper’s “Only In America” music video.
The visual is just as wacky as the Peach Panther record, including one scene where Franco is dry humping a woman on the beach. The video also splices in some Snapchat-style footage, complete with the captions.
Riff Raff has been turning lots of heads of late, most notably with his declartion that he would perform at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. The Houston rapper said he would do it for $50,000.
“Well, I love money. And I’m in America. And I was born in America. And I love money. So why wouldn’t I?” he said. “I’ve had enough money taken away from me by the Government, why shouldn’t I perform?”
The eccentric artist was also optimistic about Trump’s presidency. Riff Raff liked the idea of having lower taxes.
“Somebody told me Donald Trump is going to lower the taxes from 40 percent to 15 percent,” he said. “That’s 300,000 to 400,000 in my bank account personally. That’s a Lambo a year…money that I’ve been giving away to whoever it is. I don’t care if it’s pack of Starbursts that’s running for President.”
Riff Raff performing at a presidential inauguration sounds crazy, but the 2016 election showed that anything is possible. What used to be ridiculous is not shocking anymore.

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James Franco to Direct ‘The Pretenders’ With Trio of Rising Stars

Jack Kilmer, Shameik Moore and Jane Levy will star in the project with a script by Josh Boone.
James Franco will direct The Pretenders and has cast a trio of of rising stars — Jack Kilmer, Shameik Moore and Jane Levy — as the leads. Brian Cox and Juno Temple also will star.

The Fault in Our Stars helmer Josh Boone wrote the script for the film, which is set in New York City in the 1980s and follows two college friends who fall in love with the same girl, creating a decade-spanning, very unique love story between the threesome.

The script has been circulating since 2013, with various loose actor attachments throughout the years.

The film is being produced as a co-production between Rabbit Bandini Productions, SSS Entertainment and Yale Productions. Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis at Rabbit Bandini, Shaun Sanghani at SSS, Jordan Yale Levine from Yale and Scott Levenson are producing along with Katy Leary.

The prolific actor-director-producer Franco most recently helmed In Dubious Battle, based on the John Steinbeck book, and The Masterpiece, a film about the making-of the infamous “worst film ever” The Room. He’ll soon be seen as an actor in the comedy Why Him? with Bryan Cranston. Franco is repped by CAA, Anonymous Content and Sloane, Offer.

Kilmer previously worked with Franco on Palo Alto, which was directed by Gia Coppola and based on a story by Franco. The actor’s other credits include The Stanford Prison Experiment, The Nice Guys and the upcoming film Huntsville. He is repped by CAA, Principato-Young and Hirsch Wallerstein.

Moore was the breakout star of Rick Famuyiwa’s film Dope, and then landed Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix musical series The Get Down. He is repped by ICM Partners, Artistic Endeavors and McKuin Frankel Whitehead.

Levy starred in the horror film Don’t Breathe, and will soon be seen in Monster Trucks. She is repped by Gersh and Sloane, Offer.

Cox’s many acting credits include recent sci-fi film Morgan, along with Troy, The Bourne Supremacy and Braveheart. He is repped by Paradigm and Insight.

Temple starred in Maleficent, Black Mass with Johnny Depp and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Her upcoming films include Woody Allen’s next project and Netflix’s The Most Hated Woman in America. She is repped by UTA, Troika in the U.K. and Lichter, Grossman.

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‘Why Him?’ Red-Band Trailer: It’s Bryan Cranston vs. James Franco

Thinking about just how awkward this holiday season is going to be with your family this year can be a depressing and uncomfortable experience. Watching someone else suffer through a really awkward holiday season, though? That’s comedy gold. Or so the new comedy Why Him? would like to think.

Bryan Cranston plays the doting father of a bright young woman (Zoey Deutch) who’s excited to introduce her new boyfriend (James Franco) to her family. Problem is, he’s kind of the worst — an Silicon Valley “zillionaire” who has “literally no filter.” Making matters even more upsetting, he’s thinking about proposing. At first the boyfriend tries to ingratiate himself with the family, but when that plan fails an all-out war develops between the would-be in-laws.

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FilmRise Locks Down ‘The Vault’ Starring James Franco

Francesca Eastwood, Scott Haze and Taryn Manning also star in the supernatural heist thriller.
James Franco has once again underlined his status as one of AFM’s golden boys, with his star turn in The Vault helping it attract a U.S. buyer.

FilmRise picked up North American rights to Redwire Pictures’ supernatural heist thriller, described as The Town meets The Sixth Sense, which is being sold worldwide by Content Media.

Also starring Francesca Eastwood, Scott Haze and Taryn Manning, the film sees two estranged sisters forced to come together to rob a bank in order to save their brother. Dan Bush directed the film from an original screenplay he co-wrote with Conal Byrne, with Redwire’s Luke Daniels and Content’s Tom Butterfield producing.

“We are thrilled to be releasing The Vault, a terrifying thriller that is sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats,” FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher said Saturdat in a statement. “Performances across the board are exceptional, including James Franco and Taryn Manning.”

Content’s Jonathan Ford negotiated the deal with Fisher.

Franco also has his directorial efforts In Dubious Battle, based on the John Steinbeck novel, and post-apocalyptic actioner Future World selling at the ongoing AFM.

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James Franco Strips Off in Second Video Endorsing Hillary Clinton

I don't usually endorse candidates, but when I do they're extraordinary #MostInterestingWoman

A video posted by James Franco (@jamesfrancotv) on

‘King Cobra’ Trailer Pits James Franco and Christian Slater as Gay Porn Producer Rivals

A trailer has dropped for the true crime gay porn drama King Cobra. The film centers around the early rise of adult entertainer Sean Lockhart aka Brent Corrigan (portrayed by Garrett Clayton), who becomes the conduit to a lurid tale of murder and deception as his popularity grows. The ensemble cast includes Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), Keegan Allen (Pretty Little Liars), Molly Ringwald (Jem and the Holograms), Alicia Silverstone (Vamps) and James Franco, who serves as one of the film’s producers. Justin Kelly (I Am Michael) directs the film and penned the screenplay (D. Madison Savage shares a “story by” credit.

Corrigan, a seemingly fresh-faced and youthful suburbanite, is morphed into a porn success story thanks to the backing of Cobra Video mogul Stephen (Slater), yet when tensions begin to rise (as well as more dollars requested) a rift starts to grown between the young man and his boss. The tension also invites the interests of a pair of rival porn producers – played by Allen and Franco – who want for nothing but to ruin the Cobra Video brand and steal its leading man. The tale grows more sordid in the variety of “you can’t make this up” terrain.

King Cobra made its world premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, where the film sparked spirited but mostly warm reactions from critics, and was recently snapped up by IFC Films. The film will open in select theaters as well as arrive on VOD on October 21st.

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Hilarious Anti-Trump PSA Reminds Us To Get Out And VOTE

This election is terrifying, so a little comic relief in the form of a hilarious anti-Trump PSA doesn’t hurt. All it takes is all of us — we need to vote. So Joss Whedon got a bunch of celebrities together to remind us that one of the candidates is a racist, ignorant, idiot — and we need to do all we can to stop him. They managed to use some humor, which is a plus in this terror-inducing time we’re facing.Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Neil Patrick Harris, James Franco, Clark Gregg, Leslie Odom Jr., Jesse Williams, Scarlett Johansson… they’re all in on it.

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TIFF 2016: Five Questions for In Dubious Battle Director and Actor James Franco

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Continuing his strike as one of the most tireless and unpredictable multi-hyphenates working in film today, James Franco brings to Toronto the North American premiere of his latest feature, an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s first novel, In Dubious Battle. A tale of labor strife amongst fruit pickers and orchard owners in 1930s California, the work mixes politics with human drama as it captures the rivalries and conflicts that arise in times of activism. In addition to directing, Franco stars alongside Vincent D’Onofrio, Robert Duvall and Selena Gomez. The screenplay is by Matt Rager, who scripted Franco’s other recent Great Novel Adaptation, The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. Below, Franco discusses his love for John Steinbeck, what a tale of the ’30 American labor movement has to teach us today, and why he’s embraced such a frenetic artistic output.

In Dubious Battle screens at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, September 12.

Filmmaker: When did you first read Steinbeck’s novel, and what inspired you to direct a screen adaptation? As a raw material for cinema, what did it offer you that you wanted to explore?

Franco: I grew up reading Steinbeck, and I read the novel in high school, but it definitely wasn’t one of my favorites. (Those were probably East of Eden and Cannery Row.) But when I acted in Of Mice and Men on Broadway I reread a bunch of Steinbeck, including In Dubious Battle. It is part of the unofficial “Dustbowl Trilogy,” which also includes Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. They all take place in Northern California, which is where I grew up. After doing Mice… I was very interested in doing some Steinbeck material on screen, but I found that while Mice… was perfectly suited for the stage because of the incredible characters and the intimate scenes, it wasn’t as well suited for the screen because it didn’t require any scope; all the major scenes took place in confined spaces like the bunkhouse. But In Dubious Battle, although it was weaker on character, had an epic conflict between two irreconcilable groups. Once the conflict starts it never lets up, and man,y many people, of all kinds, are brought into the fray in various ways. I thought that that kind of set up would be much more cinematic, and the tension and conflict would drive the film from beginning to end.

Filmmaker: You’ve made In Dubious Battle following adaptations of novels by Faulkner and McCarthy, and a film about Tennessee Williams, in addition to other works of literary provenance. How much do the stylistic traits and formal devices of these individual works shape your decisions in terms of adaptation and direction, versus your own developing style? In other words, do you seek to remain faithful to these works, or to artfully betray them in some way?

Franco: With all of these classics my primary intention is to be faithful to the novels, in spirit, structure and style whenever possible. I started with McCarthy and Faulkner, two of my favorite writers. I figured that only adapting the story and not the style would not be adapting those writers, because their styles are so integral to what they write. The Sound and the Fury without Faulkner’s style and structure is just southern melodrama, so I had to adapt everything, not just the narrative.

And now with Steinbeck I was trying to be as faithful to his spirit as possible. Some things changed from the novel, mainly character developments, because Steinbeck was still learning how to create fully dimensional characters when he wrote this early book. We added dimension to all the characters, and wove them together more, sort of like an Altman film.

Filmmaker: Why tell a story about the 1930s labor movement in the States today, during a time of global capitalism? How does the story you are telling connect to the present moment?

Franco: Filmmaker: It’s very topical; the idea of battling “the man” will always be relevant. Unions, wages, 1%ers vs. the rest, strikes — these are things that will always be relevant as long as there is an exclusive upper class resting on a larger lower class. But what I was really interested in showing was man in conflict with himself.

Filmmaker: Let me ask you about your famed productivity. In a world where so many directors wait years between movies, the sheer number of films you’re able to make can seem mind-boggling. That said, there are directors in the past — Fassbinder and Raul Ruiz come to mind — who have made a kind of hyper-productivity their own style. Could you tell me what role this extreme productivity and the volume of your film work plays in your overall concept of yourself as an artist?

Franco: Fassbinder is a huge influence: his rebellious spirt, and his incredible productivity. He was doing in an independent, artistic, pro-active way what they did in the old studio days when John Ford would direct three movies a year. Also Cassavettes is a huge influence, the ultimate “one for them/one for” me creator, whose “one for them” was often a classic such as Rosemary’s Baby. He learned how to pull the kinds of movies that he loves into being when no one else would.

When I do many different kinds of things, and in quick succession, it allows me to take more risks, because I’m not putting everything in one basket. But it also allows me to be more disciplined in my approach, because each project gets its own approach. If I did fewer projects more of a burden would be put on them to deliver everything I want, whereas doing many allows me to spread out my ideas among many projects.

Filmmaker: Finally, In Dubious Battle deals with, in part, the decision-making of groups. Is there a parallel here to the movie business in any way?

Franco: Yes and no. Many people make decisions on movies, but usually in tiers, and not all at once. A director will make decisions on set, and might consult with a producer about overarching ideas and then go and discuss shooting approaches with a DP. Later, after its shot, the head of a studio, or a financier might come give notes.

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