James Franco To Direct & Star In Adaptation Of James Ellroy's 'American Tabloid'

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by Kevin Jagernauth
January 22, 2013 10:26 AM
8 Comments
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So, what you have done this January? If you're James Franco, you're currently at the Sundance Film Festival dropping two films, signing on to direct and star in the biopic of hairstylist Jay Sebring in "Beautiful People," and you wrote a poem for the inauguration. Seriously. And it seems the always busy Franco has just added yet another project to his slate.

Chatting with MTV up in Park City, Franco revealed he's got another directing/starring gig lined up. "We're going to do 'American Tabloid' by James Ellroy," Franco revealed. "It's not all put together yet. It's still early." But this will certainly be big news to fans of the author, who have seen the book percolating in Hollywood for years now.

A sprawling tale that spans from 1958 to 1963, the story follows law enforcement officers Pete Bondurant, Kemper Boyd and Ward Littell, who slowly get entangled with the CIA, FBI and the mafia, which winds up with their involvement in the JFK assassination. Given the scope of the story, it's not a surprise that previous iterations have been in miniseries form, first with Bruce Willis attached to star and produce, and then later crossing the desk of Tom Hanks at his Playtone shingle. Both would've also worked on Ellroy's "The Cold Six Thousand," the second book in the Underworld USA trilogy that caps off with "Blood's A Rover," but it's unclear yet if Franco will be following that same path.

Indeed, as the director/actor advises, it's still early and who knows if/when this will get done, but given Franco's work ethic it's just as likely it could happen. Ellroy's material is great stuff (even if it hasn't always translated well on the big screen -- sorry, "Black Dahlia") and this sounds like a ripping story that could be solid thriller. Let's hope Franco puts this a bit higher up on his to-do list.

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8 Comments

  • Steve | January 22, 2013 5:12 PMReply

    This is total bullshit!! If you are a fan of James Ellroy you would obviously know that he has gotten back all the rights for the film adaptions of his novels and has stated in interviews that you will never see any of his novels on film anymore. James Franco prob just made a random statement about wanting to make this to a film and everyone believes it. Remember when he said he was making Blood Meridian? Add this to bad journalism and a slow news day.

  • Evan | January 22, 2013 3:40 PMReply

    This is my favorite book and I am not confident in James Franco's ability to see it to screen. The book could be 3 movies easily as it covers pre kennedy election al the way up to Bobby's assassination. There's a ton that happens in-between including, Kennedy's campaign, Bobby's fight against the mob, Castro kicking the mob out of Cuba, the bay of pigs, Martin Luther King, JFK's assassination, etc... The book covers all of that in detail, including the story underneath it all, and more.

  • Bondurant | January 22, 2013 5:09 PM

    It's the second book that ends with Bobby's assassination. But yeah, I agree. American Tabloid is 3 movies or 10 one-hour episodes. The three lead characters have big story arcs, you'll have to leave too much stuff out if it's just one movie.

  • LITTEL | January 22, 2013 1:38 PMReply

    The Cold SIX Thousand is the title of the second novel.

  • Bondurant | January 22, 2013 11:34 AMReply

    Not going to work as a movie. That's about it.

  • BEF | January 22, 2013 10:50 AMReply

    Mini-series makes most sense, this one is more dense than LA Confidential.

  • Zack | January 22, 2013 10:35 AMReply

    I'm at a loss as to which of the three protagonists he'd be playing. I guess of the three, he'd be the best fit for Boyd, though he's a bit young. If he does the book justice, I'll be ecstatic regardless.

  • CB | January 22, 2013 10:28 AMReply

    The novel is pretty fucking ambitious. Good luck, James.

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