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James Franco defends explicit banned film 'I Want Your Love' -- VIDEO

James Franco, actor, director, student, soap star, writer, artist, musician, and Oscars-ruiner, can now add another title to his ever-expanding resume: pro-sex crusader.

The multifaceted multihyphenate has made a video defending his friend Travis Matthews’s film I Want Your Love, which has been banned in Australia due to its graphic scenes of  gay male coupling. As Franco explains in the video, Matthews was “using sex in a very sophisticated way” in the film — the director “wants to explore story and character and nuances that sex contains,” he says. Franco also points out that the film probably wouldn’t be banned if it featured explicit violence — though curiously, he ignores the fact that censors likely wouldn’t mind I Want Your Love‘s sex scenes if they featured men and women instead of men alone.

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This week's cover: 'Oz the Great and Powerful' hits the yellow brick road

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Close your eyes and begin listing all of the various characters, dialogue, imagery, creatures, props, sets, and songs you can from The Wizard of Oz. Chances are, it’ll take you about as long to finish as it took Dorothy and her companions to traipse their way to the Emerald City. That’s because the 1939 film is a part of our collective cultural memory, a work of American mythology so fundamental that it permeates our everyday lives. (Don’t believe me? Grab a box of Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts, visit the ruby slippers in the Smithsonian, or watch any one of these movies.)

So how do you go about making a movie that tells the story of what happened before Dorothy’s house flew over the rainbow and landed lickety-splat on the Wicked Witch of the East? Basically, how do you make a prequel to everyone’s childhood? “Very carefully,” says Sam Raimi. The director of the Spider-Man and Evil Dead trilogies was at first extremely hesitant to take on Oz the Great and Powerful—the huge and expensive family film out March 8 that Disney hopes will hit the same sweet spot as 2010’s Alice in Wonderland—for a very simple reason: “The original is my favorite film of all time,” he says. ” I didn’t want it sullied. I didn’t want to be involved in a production that might trade off the goodwill of that film, so I didn’t even want to read the script at first. Luckily I did. And then I realized that it wasn’t at all what I thought.”
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James Franco arrives to 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' by hot air balloon -- VIDEO

Much like the Wizard of Oz himself, James Franco really has no idea how to control a hot air balloon.

Franco made a grand entrance to Jimmy Kimmel Live, floating in by hot air balloon. Well, really the balloon was already tied down and they just lowered it a couple of feet so Franco could step out of it. The balloon, of course, was emblazoned with the title of Franco’s new movie, Oz The Great and Powerful, and its release date (March 8). 

Here’s hoping that Franco’s hilarious grandmother, who he introduced on the show, makes it in the film. According to Franco, when she visited the set she was dressed as “one of the townspeople in Glinda’s kingdom.”

His grandmother joked, “All of my jealous friends were sure I was a munchkin.”

Watch the full clip below: READ FULL STORY

Start your engines: James Franco will act as Grand Marshal for the Daytona 500

Promoting a movie isn’t just about late-night talk shows and the occasional photo shoot anymore. At least not if your name is James Franco.

Disney has announced that James Franco will act as the Grand Marshal for the 55th annual Daytona 500, NASCAR’s season-opening race and its Super Bowl, from a fan-interest point of view. How this ties in to Franco promoting his Disney film, Oz The Great and Powerful, we are not sure — perhaps he’ll hold court in a hot-air balloon? — but you can watch Franco’s rendition of “Drivers, start your engines,” when the race airs Feb. 24.

As well as uttering those four famous words, Franco will also participate in pre-race ceremonies and ride in one of the Grand Marshal cars during the pace laps that take place just before the race begins.

Read more:
Casting Net: James Franco to step behind and in front of the camera for ‘Tabloid.’ Plus: Dwayne Johnson, Ray Liotta
‘Oz The Great and Powerful': Watch the Super Bowl teaser here — VIDEO
Kerry Washington’s award-worthy style, James Franco’s Gucci documentary and more

James Franco lip-syncs to Justin Bieber's 'Boyfriend' -- VIDEO

James Franco…teen pop aficionado?

The latest chapter in the saga of Being James Franco involves the multi-hyphenate entertainer portraying Justin Bieber and lip-syncing his way through “Boyfriend,” along with an assist from rumored-girlfriend and Spring Breakers co-star Ashley Benson.

The best part of all of this is that this isn’t the first time Franco has lip-synced to teen hits. Earlier, he swapped out the Bieber wig for cornrows and did his best impression of Bieber’s sometimes-girlfriend Selena Gomez’s song, “Love You Like A Love Song.” Gomez also stars in Spring Breakers with Franco.

The video starts out as “harmless” fun with Franco looking like he’s having a genuinely goofy time impersonating the Biebs. It then takes a real creepy twist right around 2:20, when another girl (Who is it?) shows up and starts grinding on a bed with Benson. I think? There are a lot of bad wigs happening. Description of the video? “He deleted it but it was too late.”

Form your own opinion and check out the Bieber wannabe below: READ FULL STORY

Does Rachel Weisz spill the beans about who's the evil witch in 'Oz, The Great and Powerful'?

Which witch will be green-faced by the end of the movie?

In Disney’s upcoming film Oz, The Great and Powerful, there has been much speculation about which of the three witches – Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, or Rachel Weisz — will be the baddie.

Weisz seems to let the winged monkey out of the castle in a new interview with U.K.’s Sun, where she told the paper about her role as the witch Evanora: “It was a fun idea to be playing someone who is really, really bad. I can’t think of any roles that I’ve had like that before. My character is more than mean, she’s really evil. She is a pathological liar, she’s a narcissist, an egomaniac and a megalomaniac. She’s really, really a bad person and she revels in being bad.” READ FULL STORY

12 things we learned from the new 'Freaks and Geeks' oral history

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Mark Seliger exclusively for Vanity Fair

Though it lasted only a single season on NBC, Freaks and Geeks is justifiably beloved — for presenting an unvarnished take on adolescence in the Dawson’s Creek era, for perfectly mixing comedy and drama, and for launching the careers of big names like Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel. And it’s not only fans who have a special place in their hearts for Freaks — since its cancellation, nearly every member of its cast and crew has said that working on the series was the high point of their career.

That’s a sentiment that’s echoed over and over again in Vanity Fair‘s new oral history of the show, which appears in the magazine’s just-released Comedy Issue (guest edited by Apatow himself). The article also includes plenty of fun facts for those who still love Freaks, such as:

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Who should play Harry Osborn in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'?

Tucked inside the news that Shailene Woodley is in talks to play Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was the news that director Marc Webb is also on the hunt for an actor to play Peter Parker’s best friend, roommate, and eventual arch enemy Harry Osborn.

The role of the troubled only son of mysterious and distant mega-conglomerate mogul Norman Osborn was, of course, played by James Franco in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. Franco was cast as the rakishly handsome counterpart to Tobey Maguire’s nerdy everyman, but with the new Peter Parker played by the rather rakishly handsome Andrew Garfield, who should fill the shoes of his monied compatriot? Not surprisingly, we have some ideas.

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James Franco working on full-length album, duets with Smokey Robinson -- VIDEO

James Franco is full Franco-ing at this point.

Your average everyday actor/writer/Oscar host/corporate pitchman/soap opera star/college student/college professor has yet another feather to add to his hipster hat: Spoken word performer/Motown recording artist.

Franco’s band, Daddy — featuring him and his friend Tim O’Keefe, a classmate at the Rhode Island School of Design — released their first EP, the Motown-flavored MotorCity, last week. After putting out a video for first single, “Love in the Old Days,” Franco is already giving us a little more. He told Billboard that he is working on a full-length album, and also recently dropped another single.

“We have another project that we’re working on. I guess if we complete all the songs it’ll be a full-length album, 10 to 12 songs,” he said. “We’re working on that right now. It’s a little different; the style’s not quite Motown but has a similar vibe.”

The Motown vibe Franco has previously described gains a legitimate touch from Smokey Robinson, who is featured on a remix of the track, “Crime.” Franco added, “[Robinson] just went into the booth and kinda grooved over it. It was great to see a master, somebody who had been doing it for decades and was just one of the best.”

Take a listen to the Daddy/Robinson collaboration below: READ FULL STORY

Now James Franco is directing shoe commercials -- er, 'short films'

You say “potato,” and James Franco says “potahto,” because he’s fancy like that. (Side note: Has anyone ever seriously pronounced the word that way, even in Britain?) You say “actor,” and James Franco says “multihyphenate performance artist with minors in degree collection and Huffington Postery.” You say “shoe commercial,” and, evidently, Franco says “short film” — even though the following clip is totally an ad for Stuart Weitzman booties.

The AP reports that Franco has directed “four vignettes” for the high-end footwear magnate, each of which will debut on the brand’s Facebook page. The videos track model Petra Nemcova as she struts around in Weitzman heels, taking long strides and never allowing herself to smile. (After all, they’re not selling toothpaste.) Though the full “film” won’t be available until Oct. 26, the first installment has already hit YouTube:

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