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James Franco, left, and Robert Mapplethorpe
James Franco, left, and Robert Mapplethorpe

JAMES FRANCO TO PLAY ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE

Jan. 12, 2012

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James Franco is set to make yet another foray into the art world (and another role as a gay man). The Hollywood Reporter announced today that the Tribeca Film Institute has given a $15,000 grant to documentarian Ondi Timoner to make a narrative feature about Robert Mapplethorpe with Franco playing the late photographer of the sexual underworld.

Rumors about the project first surfaced in late 2010, but it was only announced today that Mapplethorpe officially became one of 10 projects to receive grants from the Tribeca Film Institute All Access Program, which gives filmmakers initial funding as well as connections to industry insiders along the way. Nate Dushku, Eliza Dushku and Miles Levy are attached to the project as producers.

The lithe, hollow-cheeked Franco does seem like a good fit to play Mapplethorpe. Even better, rumor has it that Timoner, best known for the documentary We Live in Public, is angling for Charlotte Gainsbourg to play Mapplethorpe’s longtime collaborator, lover and friend Patti Smith.

In any case, Mapplethorpe has some competition -- the film adaptation of Smith’s National Book Award-winning memoir of her friendship with Mapplethorpe, Just Kids, which she’s co-writing with playwright John Logan.

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