James Franco doesn’t give a shit how big a fan you are—you best keep his name off your off- off- off-Broadway play.
Franco’s lawyers have shut down a two-man play set for a performance in New York City for its title, James Franco and Me, the New York Times reported.
The play, written and co-performed by playwright Kevin Broccoli from Providence, Rhode Island, was set to premiere at the Peoples Improv Theater in August—until Franco’s team caught wind of the show. Despite the theater receiving a cease-and-desist letter and canceling the performance, the play ran in Cranston, Rhode Island, for three weeks in November without legal repercussion.
“I was a little disappointed,” Broccoli told the Times. “I’m not someone who’s trying to get into legal entanglements by any means, but anyone who comes to see the show would see that it’s totally satire and within fair use guidelines.”
In the play, a “fantasy comedy” as Broccoli describes, Broccoli plays himself. The production follows him from a hospital waiting room where he awaits his father’s death. A fictional Franco joins Broccoli’s character and comforts him, an encounter that leads to a seemingly existential conversation about death.
In a move akin to something Franco might pull as well, Broccoli’s had initially cast 13 different actors for his first 13 shows, men and women alike. And while Broccoli played his character each time, he and the actor playing Franco never rehearsed prior to a show, with each actor learning their lines separately. In one case, Broccoli and his Franco had never even met in person prior to a show, the Providence Journal wrote in a review.
“I’ve always been kind of fascinated with [Franco] because of how much product he puts out,” Broccoli said. “The play is about mortality and making the most of what you have. I imagined that if anyone would be game for this it’d be him.”
While the New York show has been canceled, Broccoli will revive the show in Cranston for one night only, titling it _____ and Me.
However, until the show finally premieres in New York, Broccoli has recused himself from his role.
“I’m still really hoping it’ll work out,” Mr. Broccoli said. “We’re not done by any means.”