James Franco, who is busy wrapping up work on Rise of the Apes and promotional duties for 127 Hours, is apparently packing his schedule even tighter by cramming in a feature film! The famously hard-working and ambitious young actor has set his sights on The Broken Tower, a biography of poet Hart Crane- one of the most influential young poets of the early 20th century. According to Showbiz 411, an evening with Franco as he promoted his collection of short stories (Washington Post’s not a fan) turned up the news that he had written an adaptation of the biography and would begin shooting it in a mere two weeks! Details are otherwise scant, save for the vague murmur that Michael Shannon (currently Boardwalking) “has been mentioned for the cast.”

The book Franco is adapting is famous for using Crane’s correspondence as the basis for its characterization of the poet. Crane was a complicated man who eventually killed himself by jumping off of a boat at the age of 32 after having published a body of work known for being extremely difficult to read. He wrestled with his homosexuality in his personal life, though he maintained a heterosexual relationship towards the end of his days. His poetry tended towards the epic (T.S. Elliot was a major influence) and was received well until his 1930 work The Bridge, which began his spiral of drinking and eventual ocean leaping.

Franco’s slipped this one under the radar if it really is ready to start shooting a mere fortnight from now, but if the cast still isn’t completely locked then I’m skeptical the film is that close to starting. Of course, Franco could be simultaneously directing and starring and any cast concerns are merely supporting roles that can be filled later. It remains to be seen. Franco has directed a number of shorts and a couple of features a number of years ago, including this little gem:

…but I have a feeling this will be Franco’s first foray into the heavier fare.