12:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
James Franco to Star in Hulu's J.J. Abrams-Stephen King Kennedy Assassination Drama
James Franco is set to make his return to the small screen.
The Oscar nominee has been tapped to star in Hulu's straight-to-series J.J. Abrams-Stephen King mini 11/22/63, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Based on King's best-seller, 11/22/63 is described as a thriller in which high school English teacher Jake Epping travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But his mission is threatened by Lee Harvey Oswald, his falling in love and the past itself … which doesn’t want to be changed.
Franco, making his largest TV commitment following Freaks and Geeks and General Hospital, will produce and star as Epping in the nine-hour miniseries.
Bridget Carpenter (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, The Red Road) will pen the script and exec produce the drama alongside King and Bad Robot's Bryan Burk. Bad Robot's Kathy Lingg will co-exec produce and Athena Wickham will produce. The drama hails from Warner Bros. Television, where Abrams' Bad Robot is under an overall deal. 11/22/63 marks the first collaboration for Abrams with Hulu, which will be the stateside home for the series. Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution will distribute the series globally.
Franco becomes the latest big-screen actor/producer to be lured to television — and streaming. Stars including Billy Bob Thornton (FX anthology Fargo), Halle Berry (CBS summer drama Extant), Kevin Bacon (Fox's The Following), Viola Davis (ABC's How to Get Away With Murder), Kirsten Dunst (Fargo), Matthew McConaughey (HBO's True Detective), Woody Harrelson (True Detective), Jane Fonda (Netflix's Grace and Frankie), Colin Farrell (True Detective), Vince Vaughn (True Detective) and more have been drawn to TV's creative risks and limited episode counts as networks and streaming services alike look to lure cache and viewers in an increasingly competitive scripted landscape.
For Franco, the role marks his first regular TV role following his breakout role in Judd Apatow's Freaks and Geeks. His TV credits also include episodes of 30 Rock and The Mindy Project, among others. On the feature side, his résumé includes his Academy Award-nominated turn in 127 Hours, a Golden Globe win for James Dean as well as Oz the Great and Powerful, The Interview, Spring Breakers, Spider-Man and Milk. He's written, directed and produced several features and is currently teaching college courses at UCLA, USC and Cal Arts. He recently made his Broadway debut in Of Mice & Men. Franco is repped by CAA, Untitled and Sloane Offer.
11/22/63 comes as Hulu continues to go big with its original scripted fare, which also include Jason Reitman comedy Casual and Billy Eichner starrer Difficult People.
A premiere date for 11/22/63 has not yet been determined.