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Oscars: James Franco on the fine line between revered and ridiculed

February 23, 2011 |  2:30 pm

Let there be no misunderstanding. James Franco loves “Freaks and Geeks,” the short-lived, Judd Apatow-produced TV series that jump-started his acting career. He just feels that some of the love directed its way (the series will be feted at next month’s Paley Center for Media’s annual television festival) is a tad too reverential.

“I think it was a really, really good show,” Franco says, “ and unique in a lot of ways. It focused on characters not normally the heroes of these teen shows -– the freak and the geeks. Usually, it’s the beautiful, popular kids.”

“But it’s kind of funny the way a show like that gets legitimized by adults from the literary world,” Franco continues. “It’s weird how some things get consecrated and other things are looked at with either irony or derision.”

As if to prove his point, Franco, a lead actor nominee for "127 Hours," unveiled an art installation devoted to the '70s sitcom “Three’s Company” last month at the Sundance Film Festival, re-creating and projecting episodes on four walls for guests to enjoy while they sat in a reconstruction of the show’s living-room set. Franco also has designs on perhaps turning the sitcom into an off-Broadway play someday.

There’s probably a token measure of facetiousness in Franco’s current (and, let’s face it, likely fleeting) fixation on “Three’s Company.” Much like his recent forays into daytime television, playing a character named Franco on the long-running soap “General Hospital,” Franco seems intent on demonstrating the thin line between the revered and the ridiculed.

“I like making those connections,” Franco says. “I like people to look at something they look down on and realize it’s not that far from what they consider highbrow.”

Something tells us Franco will be making a few of those connections when he co-hosts the Oscars on Sunday. Those with delicate sensibilities should consider themselves warned.

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: James Franco. Credit: Getty Images


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