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Criminally underexposed James Franco to star in Planet Of The Apes prequel

Hey look, it’s like two of our favorite Newswire subjects had a baby: The game-for-anything James Franco has just been signed to star in Rise Of The Apes, 20th Century Fox’s prequel to the Planet Of The Apes franchise that features the stinking paws of damned, dirty, photo-realistic apes. Franco will play a young scientist in modern-day San Francisco, which becomes ground zero for the war between human and ape when his genetic engineering experiment goes awry, as genetic engineering experiments are wont to do. It’s expected to be one of the studios major tentpole releases in summer 2011.

Taking on the role is all part of Franco’s scheme to put together one of the eclectic résumés in recent memory: In addition to his summer stint on General Hospital, within the next year he’ll star opposite Julia Roberts in travel porn Eat Pray Love; play Allen Ginsberg in September’s Howl; star in Danny Boyle’s Oscar-baiting 127 Hours, a true story about a hiker trapped beneath a boulder who’s forced to saw off his own arm and make it down a mountain; reteam with Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green and co-star Danny McBride for the medieval comedy Your Highness; and play the title character in Ricky Stanicky from Beverly Hills Chihuahua writer Jeff Bushell ,about a group of guys who invent a fake friend they use whenever they want to get away from their wives, and who are forced to hire an actor to play Ricky once said wives insist on meeting him. (And considering his seeming willingness to take just about any and every part that comes his way these days, that actually sounds like something the real-life Franco might do.)

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