James Franco to direct, star in biopic of author Shel Silverstein

EXCLUSIVE: His latest film The Disaster Artist squarely in the awards-season mix, James Franco has signed on to direct and star in another exploration of the life of an artist. He’ll helm and star as the prolific children’s book author, cartoonist and lyricist Shel Silverstein. The film will be written by Chris Shafer & Paul Vicknair from the Lisa Rogak book A Boy Named Shel, and it will focus on the personal and professional struggles that made Silverstein a unique voice.

It becomes the first project for MWM Studios, formerly known as OddLot Entertainment. Wonderland Sound and Vision’s McG and Mary Viola are producing with MWM Studios’ Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane. Franco and Vince Jolivette will be exec producers through Rowena Films along with Adrian Alperovich for MWM Studios. Stacey Keppler will co-produce along with Sean Sorensen. MWM Studios is co-producing and financing.

Franco is getting strong notices for his portrayal as filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, and the film he directed was just named a top 10 movie by the National Board of Review. Like Silverstein, whose classics include The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends, Franco has established himself as an artist on multiple platforms, and he sparked to the drama of Silverstein’s journey and the humor that is part of it. Franco recently signed on to star as the Marvel Comics hero Multiple Man in a Fox film that he will produce with Simon Kinberg, with Wonder Woman‘s Allan Heinberg writing the script.

Wonderland Sound and Vision most recently produced I Feel Pretty starring Amy Schumer which STX releases next summer, and the company is also behind The Babysitter, which Netflix released last month. MWM, co-founded by Pritzker and Clint Kisker, most recently produced the Emmy-nominated National Geographic series Genius, the Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water, and the indie comedy Landline which Amazon Studios released earlier this year.

Franco is repped by UTA and Kami Putnam Heist. Shafer and Vicknair are repped by UTA. Wonderland is repped by WME and Management 360. Rogak is repped by Scott Mendel Mendel Media Group.

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