Guessing James Franco's next step is an entirely foolhardy pastime. The absurdly busy polymath star jumps from project to project seemingly at random, with recent movements including playing a guy who chops his own arm off, a blockbuster about super-intelligent monkeys, a stint on a soap opera, making his directorial debut, teaching a college class about himself, a collection of short stories, a Julia Roberts vehicle adapting a self-help book, a stoner comedy parody of 1980s fantasy movies, a mega-budgeted Disney prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," and fucking up the Oscars.

So it's with an inevitable sense of surprise (if that makes sense) that we report that the actor's latest gig will be in an indie flick that, on the surface at least, seems to be somewhat below his pay grade. Variety reports that Franco will star alongside Heather Graham, Lili Taylor and "Slumdog Millionaire" star lead Dev Patel in Stephen Elliot's film "Cherry." Elliot (not to be confused with "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" director Stephan Elliot) is a novelist and journalist, author of "The Adderall Diaries," which Franco optioned last year, who's making his directorial debut here from a script he co-wrote with porn star, and NYU writing grad, Lorelei Lee.

The project will in fact be set within the industry in which Lee made her name, following an 18-year-old girl (not yet cast) who becomes involved in the porn world, and a coke-addled lawyer (Franco). Graham, returning to the setting in which she made her name in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights," will play a porn actress who's become a director, while Taylor will play the girl's mother, an alcoholic, and Patel, who's yet to replicate the success of his feature debut, will be her best friend, who secretly holds a candle for her.

It all sounds rather like a low-calorie version of Anderson's film, with a somewhat B-list cast, so we're somewhat surprised that newly minted A-lister Franco is taking the time to make this one; we can only assume that the script is top-notch. Or that he's making a video collage or something about it. Filming will begin on location in San Francisco next month, with Franco squeezing the film into his schedule before he makes Sam Raimi's "Oz The Great and Powerful" with Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams.