James Franco Wants Your Money To Make Three Short Films

We were all practically waiting for it now. As soon as Amanda Palmer’s celebrity-crowdfunded-project Patient Zero hit the web, with things like the Veronica Mars movie, Zach Braff’s Garden State follow-up and Zosia Mamet’s very expensive music video, we were waiting for the crowdfunded project from an already-wealthy, artistically-establihed celebrity that would make the Internet all go, "Oh, come on!" in unison. And who better to be that person than resume-padder and Spring Breaker James Franco? 

Franco is asking for $500,000 in an IndieGoGo campaign (or at least a handful of MFAs from Tisch) three to make three short films based on his book of semi-autobiographical fiction short stories, Palo Alto, which wasn’t even all that good. The shorts are based on the stories "Memoria," "Killing Animals" and "Yosemite," and deal with stories of angsty teens growing up in California and encountering such hazards as love, drugs, violence and mountain lions.

Franco, who talks about his passion for teaching in the crowdfunding video, has tapped four up-and-coming filmmakers from NYU, Nina Ljeti, Vladimir de Fontenay, Bruce Thierry Chung and Gabrielle Demeestere, for the project. So at least it’s sort of using Kickstarter for its original intention, to give exposure to rising filmmakers. But are the stories in Palo Alto, which were met with generally tepid reviews, stories worth telling and raising capital for? 

Franco defends his desire to crowd-fund in the campaign video, explaining that he is putting his own money into these projects, but also needs just "a little more help." A little more help. A half-million dollars’ more. 

"I find that this process is very exciting, that it’s the best way to make movies," he tells the camera, practically staring down the viewer under his dark sunglasses. "Because in this way, the movies we want to make get made in the ways we want to make them, where the only consideration is how to make the best movies possible. And I see these projects as an opportunity for all kinds of collaboration." 

The other element of this project, about which Franco is very passionate, is that all of the proceeds from the films will go to Art of Elysium, an organization that connects working artists, musicians and actors with children who are hospitalized or battling serious injury or illness. Art of Elysium does a lot of work to inspire creativity and joy in those who need a boost of it, and it’s worth raising awareness about them, for sure. 

So basically, James Franco means well, and Art of Elysium is a very cool organization that deserves your support. And maybe he’s on to something, that maybe the already-rich-and-famous can get attention on crowdfunding websites for cool, lesser-known charities and up-and-coming filmmakers, who were the kinds of things that were supposed to get exposure via crowd-funding in the first place. It would be infinitely more insufferable, if, say, Franco was directing the films themselves and there wasn’t a goodwill element.

And people will probably fund it anyway, because they funded Zach Braff and Amanda Palmer and the Veronica Mars movie, and this will further become the new way. We’re not really sure what the best solution is, except, like, create a need-based system for movie crowd-funding, but that comes with its own set of problems. Anyway, brace yourselves for the next round of navel-gazing about this as The New Way, and watch Franco’s crowdfunding video below. 

Zach Braff Needs You To Help Fund His ‘Garden State’ Follow-Up

If you were fourteen years old and living in New Jersey when Garden State came out, yes, it was probably a pretty life-changing movie for you. Otherwise, I’m still quite sure it was a hit, bringing in $35 million and establishing Zach Braff as more than just the lovable J.D. on Scrubs. And nine years since the indie drama’s release, Braff is now campaigning to get this second feature made via Kickstarter.

After parting with traditional funding in hopes to have total control over the project,  Wish I Was Here is the writer/director’s latest film written with his brother Adam, and he’s looking for a solid $2 in the next 30 days to gain the funds to get this ball rolling after seeing the success of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign. According to Braff and the official website for Wish I Was Here, the film is:
The story of Aidan Bloom (played by me), a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity; a purpose for his life. He and his wife are barely getting by financially and Aidan passes his time by fantasizing about being the great futuristic Space-Knight he’d always dreamed he’d be as a little kid.
When his ailing father can no longer afford to pay for private school for his two kids (ages 5 and 12) and the only available public school is on its last legs, Aidan reluctantly agrees to attempt to home-school them.
The result is some funny chaos, until Aidan decides to scrap the traditional academic curriculum and come up with his own. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn’t find.
Well okay, Zach you have my attention and I am more than sure there will be a slew of fans eager to hop onto the project as well. The only thing left to do is call Frou Frou to see if she’s available to score the crescendo the feature.
Check out the campaign video below and some character designs.


Meanwhile, In New Jersey: Pirate Fest

I’m not ashamed to admit I grew up in South Orange, New Jersey, just outside Newark, and attended Columbia High School—the only educational hub big and weird enough to produce both Lauryn Hill and Zach Braff, who in his teen years, as hearsay has it, was into wearing a black leather trench coat.

Anyway! Childhood friends who still reside west of the Hudson River + Facebook = I continue to live my sleazy Jersey life, if vicariously. The latest blowout to cross the transom is the birthday-related brainchild of one Mike Patierno (the guy on the left there), a dude I’ve known since we were getting Cheetos caught in our braces: PIRATE FEST. Mike recently announced the sixth annual iteration of this completely gung-ho costume party, to occur on September 8.

This thing’s popularity has gotten so out of control that there’s now a $10 cover charge, live burlesque entertainment and some kind of a marching band performance. Even The Star-Ledger, a Newark-based newspaper, will be there to cover the festivities. Again, this is a party happening on a Saturday evening in the suburbs.

If you think they are joking at all about the mandatory pirate garb, I can tell you I was roundly censured for my modern clothes when I attended a few years back and subsequently forced to chug from a bottle of Arbor Mist while people tied bandanas to me. An out-of-town wedding prevents me from going this year, but anyone tired of their usual scene in the city should stumble by and get three sheets to the wind.

Morning Links: More Kardashians Ready to Date, Scarlett Johansson Flirts With Ashley Olsen’s Ex

● When things got dicey between Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Jen’s mother did what any reasonable mother would do and e-mailed Ben Affleck for advice. Mom’s love Ben Affleck. [Us] ● Ear pressed against Yankee Stadium, a New York Times music critic hears a symphony. [NYT] ● There are two new Kardashians on the market! Kendall and Kylie, 15 and 13 years-old, are ready to date. “I guess we’re allowed to date, but we have to find a good guy, I guess,” they said, sounding less than excited. [E!]

● Kim Kardashian is suing Old Navy for using a model that looks a little too much like her in an ad campaign. There’s only room for one curvy brunette on the television these days, and Kim got there first. [NYDN] ● Scarlett Johansson was “engrossed” by Ashley Olsen’s ex, Justin Bartha. “It looked sometimes flirty, but also they seemed to be involved in a deep discussion,” said the source. Flirty and deep, just like their love. [PageSix] ● “I’ve been hiding this secret inside me for too long,” announced Zach Braff’s website yesterday after hackers broke in and posted a fake “coming out” note. Braff denied the statement’s truth on Facebook, saying that he loves his girlfriend at least as much as he loves musicals, brunch and Doogie Howser. [TMZ]

Zach Braff Hacked, ‘Comes Out’ on Website

This morning, a message ostensibly from Zach Braff appeared on his website. The note said that Braff was coming out of the closet after years of non-threatening indie heterosexuality. “I have been hiding a secret inside me for too long,” it began.

“The human mind can only bare [sic] so much before it explodes in emotions, and well … it is time to let the world know. I am excited and proud to announce that I am an open member of the homosexual community. This is not news to those closest to me, and I honor that they have kept it a secret for such a long time…I am Zach Braff, and I am the same man I’ve always been, gay or not ;)”

You guessed it – this is fake as all get out. Braff’s rep confirmed to TMZ that the actor had been hacked, and that the site hadn’t been updated since 2006. Nice try though, dorky teenage computer nerd who just watched Garden State for the first time. And congrats to Zach Braff for getting back in the headlines for the first time in, like, 3 years.

Links: Snooki Stars in ‘New York Times,’ Amanda Bynes Unretires Already

● The New York Times takes on Snooki: “Flake, cow, loser, slut, idiot, airhead, trash, penguin, creep, moron, midget, freak, Oompa-Loompa, nobody.” There’s more. [NYT] ● Director Aaron Sorkin toured Harvard’s secret societies while researching his Facebook film The Social Network, offering college kids a change to sell out at an early age. [Page Six] ● Kim Kardashian took to Twitter to dissuade a woman from getting plastic surgery to look like her. “Sounds expensive!” she probably thought. [NYP]

● The ever-newsworthy actress Amanda Bynes has “unretired” from acting, according to her Twitter account, the microblogging service also known as “cheaper than an agent.” [HuffPo] ● Zach Braff is writing a movie “in the Garden State oeuvre,” with the working title One Trick Pony. [Vulture] ● Natalie Portman looks terrifying (also, beautiful?) in Black Swan. [People]

Links: Amy Winehouse’s Busted Implants, Zach Braff Suicide Hoax

● Amy Winehouse had quite the scare when she believed her newly installed breast implants had exploded; she was rushed to the hospital, but not before stopping for some fried chicken. [News.au] ● Despite a fake CNN article that says otherwise, Zach Braff is not dead of an apparent suicide. [WPix] ● Julianne Hough has been added to the never-ending cast of Christina Aguilera’s film debut Burlesque. She’ll join Kristen Bell, Cher, and Stanley Tucci as a fellow dancer. [E!]

● California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has gone Terminator on the tabloid press, signing into law a tougher paparazzi law that makes it easier for celebs to sue media outlets. [MSNBC] ● Heidi Klum has finally giving birth, ending what seems to be the longest pregnancy known to man; she delivered a daughter named Lou Samuel. [People] ● Francis Ford Coppola says that “cinema as we know it is falling apart” because today it competes with too many other things (i.e. the internet) for people’s time. [Bloomberg]

Links: Chuck Norris President of Texas, Designer Children from Katie Holmes

● Is that Zach Braff smoking a joint? He’s like Michael Phelps, but without all those gold medals. [Perez] ● It looks like the movie Twilight helped boost sales for the pseudo-goth chain Hot Topic, who carries the movie’s merch; their sales have increased since the Twilight’s November premiere. [TheCut] ● Chuck Norris says he’ll run for President of Texas if the state secedes from the Union, a “need [that] may be a reality soon.” Roundhouse kicks for all Yankee scum. [CNN]

● Jennifer Aniston has caused a feud between Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz because Diaz is dating Aniston’s ex Paul Sculfor and Barrymore has become quite friendly with Aniston. [NationalLedger] ● Katie Holmes and her stylist are Jeanne Yang are designing a children’s clothing line, so your child (for the right price) can look like Suri Cruise. [HollywoodScoop] ● Who would have guessed Denise Richards behaving like a diva on the Dancing with the Stars set? A staff snitch says the “actress” is demanding and believes she’s smarter than everyone else. [PopCrunch]

Zach Braff is the New Aqua Man

This week saw the launch of PUR Water Filtration‘s new campaign with Emmy-nominated and Grammy-Award-winning writer/actor/director Zach Braff as the “Voice of Water”. In the spots, whose theme is that water is better flowing free (i.e., not bottled), Braff exercises his acting chops and embodies the liquid with lines like “I’m water. I shouldn’t be trapped in a bottle. I’ve got things to do. Trees to grow. Thirsts to quench.” Hmm… is there a Clio award for spokespeople?