James Franco Lines Up Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain and More for NYU Grad Student Films

James Franco Lines Up Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain and More for NYU Grad Student Films

May 15, 2012

Poet at heart James Franco has explored the works of writerly talents like Allen Ginsberg in Howl and Anthony Hecht in The Feast of Stephen, to name a few. The actor — who also happens to be a New York University professor — also teaches a class about poetry and film. Now, Franco will be overseeing a poetry-inspired project for NYU grad students that will result in two anthology features, according to Indiewire. Award-winning American poet C.K. Williams' 1983 book Tar — set around the poet's experience with the Three Mile Island nuclear-reactor accident — and Stephen Dobyns' National Poetry Series award winner Black Dog, Red Dog will be the focus of the works.

This wasn't an opportunity open to all students. Instead, they had to win a competition to work with the actor-director. The chosen will be creating separate film shorts based on individual poems in the dual collections, which will then be combined into two feature-length narratives. Any money made from the features will be used to creature future works of a similar nature. Talents like Jessica Chastain and Mila Kunis are already flocking to the Williams' project, while Olivia Wilde, Chloe Sevigny, and Whoopi Goldberg are focused on the Dobyns work. Franco will be acting and producing both pics, with Tar nearly done and readying for a premiere at TIFF. Black Dog, Red Dog is undergoing editing still. Suddenly, we're regretting not enrolling at NYU this semester

Another huge ensemble cast is being eyed up for a real-life-inspired project. The Firestone and Ford tire controversy that happened in 2000, resulting in recalls and accidents, and eventually ending a 100-year supply relationship, is being turned into a movie, says ShowBiz411. Investigative journalist Adam Penenberg's Tragic Indifference: One Man's Battle with the Auto Industry over the Dangers of SUVs examined the biggest product liability case in history in the 2003 book about "an automaker trying to dominate the lucrative SUV market despite known stability flaws with its signature model in the class, and of a tire manufacturer willing to sacrifice the integrity of its products in order to fulfill the wishes of its biggest client."

Michael Douglas originally optioned rights to the tale, hoping to play "maverick attorney" Tab Turner, but became busy with other projects — and let's face it, Douglas hasn't been in the best of health lately. His company, along with 2929 Productions, however, wants to push forward with the adaptation now, and they want Josh Brolin for Turner.

The lawyer is described as a bulldog attorney who pushed hard to win victims of the Ford Explorer rollover cases (after Firestone tires were seeing massive blowouts) justice, including the now paralyzed Donna Bailey. With the victim's fragile health, the team is hoping to get the project — currently being dubbed Bloody Highways — completed this year. Names like Cate Blanchett, Laura Linney, and Nicole Kidman are already popping up to play Bailey, and Jonathan Demme is at the top of the list for director potentials. ShowBiz411 describes the film as Erin Brockovich, Michael Clayton, and Silkwood all rolled into one. 

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