Showbiz 411 reports that James Franco is eyeing two heavy, literary classics to write and direct. First up, Franco is in talks to bring William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" to the big screen. Franco and his manager are already talking to the Faulkner estate, and Fox Searchlight will back the film should clearances and assurances get made. For those of you that slept through English class, it will be interesting to see how Franco approaches his adaptation as the story utilizes multiple points-of-view and inner voices to tell the story of the Bundren family as they take the matriarch to the town where she wants to be buried. But the other project the multi-tasking talent may end up directing has been one stuck in development hell and been a bit of a holy grail job.
Update: Hmm, maybe not so fast. Our IndieWire comrade Anne Thompson just emailed Scott Rudin about this. In his response (shared with the Playlist, thanks Anne), he severely downplays Friedman's report without exactly denying it (though it sure as hell eludes to the Showbiz 411 report either being inaccurate or pure fiction).
Franco is in the middle of striking a deal with producer Scott Rudin to write and direct Cormac McCarthy's epic and bloody tale of Indian scalp bounty hunters, "Blood Meridian." The film has seen a number of directors circling or expressing interest in the project, including Ridley Scott, John Hillcoat, Michael Haneke and Todd Field (long-linked to the project, we presume he's moved on, but please make a new movie soon) but if all gets signed and sealed, "Blood Meridian" would go in front of cameras in 2012. However, Showbiz 411 also says that "As I Lay Dying" would go "next spring" if everything works out so either Franco is going to shoot two major films in one year (doubtful) or more than likely, whichever one comes together quickest will get his attention.
This news continues a flurry of projects that Franco has been acquiring or looking at with an eye to direct. In 2010 he's picked up “Sal Mineo: A Biography,” “Holy Land” and “The Adderall Diaries" as potential vehicles, while he's apparently wrapped "The Broken Tower," a film based on the life of poet Hart Crane, that was announced early last year.
As for 2011, Franco is a busy, busy man. He’ll be hosting the Oscars with Anne Hathaway (where he’s also likely to be nominated for “127 Hours”), the day after that he’ll be reprising his role on “General Hospital,” he’s currently shooting “Maladies,” he’s been linked to the new Noah Baumbach project “While We’re Young” (also being produced by Scot Rudin) and he's set to make his tentpole debut in "Rise Of The Apes." All this on top of taking classes at Yale University and the Rhode Island School of Design. God, we feel like fucking slackers.