James Franco To Direct And Star In Biopic About "The Giving Tree" Author

James Franco is currently enjoying the best reviews of his career, on either side of the camera, for The Disaster Artist and it may be enough to carry him through to the Oscars. Really. No more making fun of his questionable directorial choices (for now), it's time to start taking him more seriously. And that means paying attention to what comes next. Right now that looks to be A Boy Named Shel, an adaptation of Lisa Rogak's book about poet, songwriter, and "The Giving Tree" author Sheldon Silverstein. Franco will both direct and star.  Here's a synopsis for the book:

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.

Shel lived an incredible life without boundaries, and those seem to be the kinds of people Franco is interested in making movies about right now. The script will be written by Chris Shafer and Paul Vickair, writers of the Chris Evans films Playing it Cool and Before We Go. [THR]