Leave it to James Franco to find another weird way back to the small screen. The actor/author/artist/grad student/so on got his breakout playing Daniel Desario in Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s excellent “Freaks and Geeks” in 1999-2000. Most of his TV appearances since then have been noteworthily odd, from that time he had a three-way with Liz Lemon and a Japanese body pillow on “30 Rock” to his semi-ironic Oscar-hosting stint with Anne Hathaway to his stint as Robert “Franco” Frank on “General Hospital.”
Playing a serial killer with an artistic bent, Franco did three arcs on the ABC soap over 2009-2012 before his character was killed off by his twin brother in January (the genre being what it is, that doesn’t mean he won’t come back some day). Franco made literal art out of the guest star spot — he co-directed hybrid short “Francophrenia (Or Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is)” with Ian Olds (“Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi”), using footage shot while he was making the show and cut together into something reportedly avant-garde.
And now, according to Entertainment Weekly, Franco’s headed back to television for a guest arc on Nick at Nite’s new primetime soap “Hollywood Heights,” which premieres next Monday the 18th at 9pm (the full first episode is streaming online here). EW reports that Franco’s initial episode will air on June 29th, and that the role will be suitably meta:
“James’ manager Miles Levy contacted us and asked if we had a role for him,” says producer Jill Farren Phelps, who previously worked with Franco on General Hospital. “We thought he was joking at first, but he really wanted to come back.” The role they ended up concocting was that of Osborne “Oz” Silver, an outrageous Hollywood movie producer, which will certainly give him thematic room to continue his odd micro-experiments in fame. “We wanted to give him a character he could have fun with,” says Phelps.
Here’s guessing Franco will also have his assistants take screengrabs of his appearance to be turned into some arty experimental graphic novel or the like in the months to come.