And while the Roast of Donald Trump may have been the single most awkward thing to ever be broadcast on television (let us recall with a moment of silence The Situation bombing to crickets and cringes in-room), the addition of James Franco to the Roast lineup brings a level of eccentricity not yet seen in the special’s decade-long tenure.
Franco, a well-read academic and acclaimed actor, is difficult to peg down when it comes to consumer expectation of celebrity. The thesp’s resume, for example, includes compelling performances in films like 2008 biopic “Milk,” along with a laugh-till-you-cry Funny or Die video that spoofs his gig as the face of Gucci’s men’s fragrance line. His eclectic entertainment credits are even more surprising when placed in the context of Franco being a PhD candidate at Yale. And, by the way, publications including Elle and Salon.com routinely refer to Franco as America’s modern sex symbol.
He’s a multi-hyphenate celeb, indeed.
Who could roast such a star? While mainstays including Jeff Ross will likely take the podium during the August taping of Franco’s roast, we have suggestions, as well. Who should be included in the “Comedy Central Roast of James Franco”? Our top 10 picks:
- Anne Hathaway: Franco and Hathaway may have buried the hatchet (sort of) when it comes to their train wreck of an Oscar hosting gig in 2011, but that doesn’t mean Hathaway can’t get in a few final, disgruntled jabs cloaked in the guise of comedy towards her disaffected co-host. Act fast, Anne!
- Aron Ralston: Franco starred as Ralston, an outdoorsman forced to amputate his own arm during an accident in Utah, in 2010’s “127 Hours.” Hathaway roasting Franco may lead to in-room tension that would make any sane attendee want to take a switchblade to their own limbs, so having Ralston — a motivational speaker and all-around bad ass — follow up with quips about Franco’s portrayal of him may be a solid move.
- A crew member from “General Hospital”: In 2009, Franco began a run on daytime sudser “General Hospital” that had many fans scratching their heads and wondering, “Why?” In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Franco explained that his appearance in the soap opera is “performance art,” even drawing parallels between his work on the show and the work of Marina Abramović, a woman widely touted as the “grandmother of performance art.” But what may have been performance art for Franco was just another day on the paying job for an average crew member, so perhaps someone running craft service can enlighten us to what this “performance art” was really all about, with anecdotes from set.
- Former NYU professor Jose Angel Santana: Santana sued Franco last year for what he called “disparaging and inaccurate public statements” made by the actor (and from what Santana called the “bully pulpit” of celebrity) that may or may not have contributed to Santana being let go by the university. The lawsuit was ultimately won by Franco, but nothing says “bully pulpit” quite like the podium at a Comedy Central Roast. Revenge is sweet, but should Santana not be available to seize the opportunity, perhaps the guy who took this photo can be tracked down to offer academic insight.
- Franco’s grandmother: She endorsed “Spring Breakers.” She called anyone who doesn’t see “127 Hours” “a bunch of pussies.” She has a Twitter. Let’s do this, Grandma!
- “Milk” co-star Sean Penn: Just because.
- A viewer ambassador from the 37 million of us who watched the 2011 Academy Awards: Hathaway has had her moment to speak out (and still can, if given a spot on this Roast!). Franco has been able to air his grievances. But what about us viewers? In some sort of crowd sourced selection process — likely to occur on Reddit, since they’re very efficient over there — one viewer of the 2011 Oscars is chosen to represent the masses and let Franco know just what it was like to sit through that televised ceremony. Hat tip if the chosen viewer arrives at the Roast dressed as Marilyn Monroe.
- Seth Rogen: Franco’s co-star for 2008 cult stoner comedy “Pineapple Express” once joked in an interview that the sexual tension between himself and Franco is so thick “you can cut it with a knife.” Only good things can come from Rogen being added to the lineup of Franco roasters, especially since the thesp recently reunited with Franco on positively-reviewed apocalypse comedy “This Is the End.”
- The person tasked with updating the Wiki page for Franco’s book “Palo Alto”: Seriously, this is one detailed Wiki page for a collection of short stories penned by Franco, especially stories that one critic dubbed “amazingly underwhelming.” Who is this person? You deserve your moment in the spotlight, Wiki-writer. Reveal thyself.
- Jared Leto: Curve ball! But the only person who can out-obscure James Franco might be actor and 30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto. For any pop culture bystander, it at times seems like these two talented stars are inadvertently in a race for the title of Most Eccentric Yet Intriguingly Progressive Male Celeb, as both, for example, recently landed magazine covers for Candy that feature the stars in drag (as seen here and here). Should Leto make a cameo at Franco’s roast, cue Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”: there can only be one of us in town, partner, though this TV reporter, for the record, is perfectly fine with there existing both. Really.