At the end of 2021, James Franco peeped out of his hidey-hole and gave an interview to Jess Cagle in which he discussed his failures and “blind spot” for power dynamics, highlighted by a class-action lawsuit brought by former students, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who alleged that his now-defunct acting school was just a “pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation”. In Richard Rushfield’s Ankler newsletter this week, Jeff Sneider ponders what a Franco comeback might look like, interviewing people across the industry, men and women, to poll their feelings on Franco working his way back into public good graces. The responses are inconclusive, some people think he can come back, others don’t, more than one point out that Franco wasn’t making studios money anymore, so there is little corporate impetus to support him.
But I find it strange that people keep saying there “isn’t a blueprint for a post-MeToo comeback”. There absolutely is! Look at all the men who were outed as abusers and who are still working. Louis CK was just nominated for an Emmy for his last standup special. Aziz Ansari has a new special coming to Netflix this month. Mel Gibson has ELEVEN projects in various stages of production, including a role in John Wick spin-off The Continental, and he’s been tapped to direct Lethal Weapon 5. Even Kevin Spacey filmed a new movie last year. Bryan Singer remains on the outs—GOOD—and Harvey Weinstein is still cancelled because he WENT TO PRISON, but pretty much everyone else named in the MeToo movement is still working today.
So what does a James Franco comeback look like? Exactly like this. He settled the lawsuit out of court last year. He laid low for several months. Then he gave an interview to a sympathetic outlet—Jess Cagle was once the editor of celebrity-friendly PEOPLE—and next will come testing the waters. Will his comeback project be a major studio film? Probably not. But it just takes one person willing to work with him—he got to complete The Deuce because Maggie Gyllenhaal stood by him—and Franco is back in the game. (That person probably won’t be Seth Rogen, though.)
I’m not saying people shouldn’t be able to come back after being accused of misconduct. But part of the comeback should include acknowledgment and understanding of the hurt caused, and I’m not sure James Franco really gets that part. I’m not sure any of them really get that part. Just staying out of the spotlight for a little while seems to be enough for these guys to think they’ve done the “work” and earned their second chance, but I have yet to hear any of these people say anything that makes me think, Oh, the lightbulb has gone off, they get it now. It makes me wonder what, if anything, has really changed.
Anyway, here’s Tom Hanks inadvertently reading James Franco for filth:
â€œTHATâ€™S A SIN, AND THATâ€™S AGAINST THE LAWâ€ MY JAW DROPPED â€œJAMES?â€ THEY GOT HIS ASSSSSSS pic.twitter.com/dmKHTVQELC— â„® diddy (@puffdaughter) January 9, 2022
Live long and gossip,