James Franco Set to Direct & Star in Shel Silverstein Biopic ‘A Boy Named Shel’

     December 2, 2017


Amongst all the rampant horror and idiocy of 2017, James Franco has been having the best 12 months of his career thus far. The Disaster Artist, about the making of Tommy Wisseau‘s notorious The Room, is his best movie as a director by a country mile and features one of his best performances to date. On TV, his directing and double-duty performance in The Deuce has rightfully earned him innumerable accolades. He also made time to appear in Alien: Covenant, one of director Ridley Scott‘s best movies to date. The guy can’t slow down.


Image via A24

If more evidence was needed to support that claim, yesterday’s news that Franco will next direct and star in A Boy Named Shel should do. Indeed, Franco is taking the lead role of Shel Silverstein, the author behind such wondrous childhood classics as Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Giving Tree, and A Light in the Attic. The movie will be adapted by Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair from Lisa Rogak‘s biography of the same name. There’s no word on a release date as of yet, but at this point, Franco also has a Marvel movie (Multiple Man), the Coen brothers’ anthology miniseries The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and two more of his own projects (Zeroville and The Long Home) on his plate. It might be 2019 or even 2020 until we get a gander at A Boy Named Shel but in the wake of The Disaster Artist, it’s now a movie to get genuinely excited about.

Here’s the synopsis for Rogak’s book via Amazon:

In A Boy Named Shel, Lisa Rogak tells the full story of a life as antic and adventurous as any of his creations. A man with an incurable case of wanderlust, Shel kept homes on both coasts and many places in between—and enjoyed regular stays in the Playboy Mansion. Everywhere he went he charmed neighbors, made countless friends, and romanced almost as many women with his unstoppable energy and never-ending wit.


His boundless creativity brought him fame and fortune—neither of which changed his down-to-earth way of life—and his children’s books sold millions of copies. But he was much more than “just” a children’s writer. He collaborated with anyone who crossed his path, and found success in a wider range of genres than most artists could ever hope to master. He penned hit songs like “A Boy Named Sue” and “The Unicorn.” He drew cartoons for Stars & Stripes and got his big break with Playboy. He wrote experimental plays and collaborated on scripts with David Mamet. With a seemingly unending stream of fresh ideas, he worked compulsively and enthusiastically on a wide array of projects up until his death, in 1999.

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