There are a lot of actors who routinely find themselves in more trouble than James Franco, but I’m not sure there’s one who routinely finds himself in the middle of more weirdness. From obnoxious Oscar campaigns to invisible art to underage girls, he’s almost a magnet for the bizarre, which is why the following lawsuit shouldn’t surprise you in the least.
According to TMZ, author Cyril Humphris just filed a lawsuit against James Franco claiming the author stole his work for an upcoming movie. Such legal action is extremely common in Hollywood and more often than not comes to nothing, but given James Franco is involved, this one is far weirder than usual.
The subject of the actor’s next film is legendary author Charles Bukowski. Humphris wrote an biography on Bukowski and allegedly optioned it to James Franco back in 2009 in order to provide the subject matter for a film. Forward progress on the project never happened, however, and the option supposedly expired a year later. Fast forward to 2014 and that Bukowski movie is coming, and Humphris is irate that he’s not getting any credit for his biography that he says played a big role in the finished script.
Here’s the thing about biographies serving as inspiration for scripts. Sometimes the writers decide to make a movie about someone, grab the book rights and then decide to focus on a completely different portion of the person’s life. Maybe that means optioning something else entirely. Maybe it means talking to family members and friends. The biography can be the thing that gets the writers to the thing the movie ends up being about. Or it could end up being the actual inspiration and source material, in which case the writers should definitely pay up and actually buy the option. It’s all an extremely grey area, which is why stuff like this frequently ends up in court.
James Franco hasn’t responded publicly to the allegations, but he did file legal documents claiming the movie is actually based off Charles Bukowski’s writing, which has nothing to do with the biography. If that’s the case, he’s right. If little bits of Bukowski’s background derived from the book are streamed through the narrative, however, expect this legal battle to get extremely ugly and perhaps even very expensive.
We’ll keep you updated on the legal situation as more becomes available. Regardless of what happens, we’re going to get a movie about Charles Bukowski, which should go over very well with a lot of strange people who live on the edge, including Shia LaBeouf who is allegedly a huge fan.