James Franco: Soap Opera Star

What if soap operas are actually art, and art is actually not?
What if soap operas are actually art, and art is actually not?

As I’m sure you know, today was James Franco’s first day on the long-running (since the early ‘70s, I think, but don’t want to check) soap “General Hospital.” Why has Franco, an A-list star and cutie-patootie (my mom’s words), signed on for a 2-month gig on a daytime drama? No one knows for sure, but he seems to not take himself very seriously, as this video and this video can attest to.

I happen to think that James Franco is an artist and that his soap role is performance art. An event of this magnitude couldn’t go unreported, so I drove home to watch “General Hospital,” which I last watched the summer of 1983. Here is my live blog of the show; live in the sense that I wrote this as I watched but not live in the sense that I posted it two hours later.

I miss the first three minutes. There’s a couple of ladies in an art studio talking about a tagger turned high priced artist named Franco. I think that’s our man.

“No one’s ever seen him.” Elusive artist. Phantom of the Opera?

Two art ladies are trying to get him to do a photo shoot. They work at a place named Crimson.

When did General Hospital turn into the Sopranos? There are tons of guns. Lots of people wear black. I have yet to see a scene in the hospital.

Guy named Sonny Corinthos is a mob boss. Who lives in a place called Port Charles, Pennsylvania.

Some lady who looks 34 keeps talking about how her son wanted to be the cop to bring Sonny down.

New scene. Hey, there’s a hobo! No, it’s James Franco in a dirty hoodie hiding behind a dumpster! There’s an attempt on Sonny’s life. Lots of guns.

Franco just ate something. Closeup of his mouth. He has a pretty mouth, surrounded by a 3-day beard. That was weird.

The scene ends with him doing a half-kung-fu move while skulking in the shadows.

Commercials. Brooke Shields, Disney, Build-a-Bear. I get up to get a German cookie. Monistat commercial. They totally get their target audience.

Wow. Dave Franco, james’ little brother, is joining the cast of “Scrubs.” They even say, “James Franco’s little brother Dave,” which is hilarious. Oh, the Francos.

2:14 we’re back. A guy and girl are talking about Nicholas, who I think is the half-dressed guy in the next room. The guy talking and Nicholas --- brothers?

Franco’s art installation looks like a crime scene in a bedroom that looks like it’s been decorated for a soap opera. Which is genius.

More people dressed in black talking about finding a murderer. They keep saying that that is WAY more important than some art show. Which leads me to believe that nothing interesting will in fact happen at that Franco art show.

Some other scene with the 34-year-old mom of a cop. Boring. Secrets, etc.

Ooh, the shootout! One character throws car keys to another. He catches them and Franco, in the shadows, pumps his fist in celebration. He has duct ttape around his left arm. As Sonny’s limo pulls away, shot of Franco with the hood over his eyes waving goodbye at the car. A creepy smile plastered on his face. Sonny’s bodyguard guy sees him and makes a “muwhu?” face.

Commercials. Sandra Bullock movie where she’s a white woman who changes a big black boy’s life. Yay whites!

You know, soap operas always sound much worse in the abstract. I mean, this isn’t good, and I don’t know who anyone in this show is, but it could be worse. “Grey’s Anatomy” is pretty unbearable.

2:21—the people talking about Nicholas say how he’s self-destructive, etc. since Emily’s death. Except the dude isn’t buying it. The lady he’s talking about is totally sleeping with Nicholas. And the other dude’s name is Lucky. I think he’s Luke and Laura’s son (they were the power couple in 1983). He kisses lady goodbye. She’s been covering Nick’s cufflink with her foot. Whore.

Art lady scene – Another blonde has joined the other blonde. They are big time 21-year-old execs. Some other lady in black who was in another scene is now in the scene. Man, this art show HAS to work! What if it ends in disaster?

Other scene. I leave to put a Boca chicken patty in the oven. I come back and there’s blackmail talk. I have never been blackmailed and am being led to think it’s only a matter of time. It seems to happen to everyone.

Mob car. They’re getting the hell out of town. An ambush! In public! Oh, it seems like the guy driving might be the cop/son who’s undercover.

Bodyguard says they left a homeless witness.

Franco comes out and steps on some barely alive guy’s neck. Then he rearranges the body! He is an artiste! He throws down a coin and we hear, “Keep the change.” Awesome.

Commercial. Weight loss stuff. I eat lunch.

2:32 – I miss a little bit from the scene I don’t care about. I guess the guy she’s talking to and loves is in the mob too and her son is a snitch. “I carried him in my body for 9 months.” During which she got to know him very well and so feels very loyal. What is this guy gonna do?

Mobsters now safe in a restaurant. Dante, the snitch, seems to be about 6 years younger than his mom. Which is maybe why they’re so close.

Back to the scene of the shooting. Lucky, who looks like a college freshman, is apparently a police detective. Lot’s of upward job mobility in this town. He’s deconstructing the scene. “Something’s off here.”

Mob bodyguard goes to one of the earlier guys in black, who’s a computer nerd, and asks him to check video cameras in the area and look for the homeless witness. “We have to find him.” Boy, do they.

Franco’s in a loft. Face still mostly obscured. Calls a British lady who sexilly asks, “Should I wear anything special, or nothing at all?” Franco hangs up in a very dramatic fashion. Really. It’s a cell phone, so he can’t slam it down, so he lifts up near his head and pushes the button, kind of shaking the phone as he does it. That’s called Acting.

Other scenes. That guy might turn the snitch in. “Somebody’s not going to make it out alive.”

Sonny tells the snitch (but doesn’t know he’s a snitch) that he wants out of the mob because that’s no way to live if you have kids. But , you, know, it’s hard. He’s a just killer. Or is he?

Where the hell is that homeless guy?, they wonder. And why did he wave? They found footage of him. He’s waving to the bank camera!

Franco in his loft. Still can’t see his face. He has a straight razor. That British lady who played Naomi on “Lost” comes in. He walks toward her with the razor. Commercial.

I’m really hoping this ends with a “Freaks and Geeks” reunion, but I have been disappointed before.

Shootout crime scene. This guy didn’t die of a gunshot wound—his windpipe was crushed! And then he was posed! We just figured that out here on the street with science!

Why did the homeless guy wave? Computer guy’s theory—homeless people are often mentally ill. Bodyguard doesn’t buy it. He also has looked constipated the entire episode. His name is Jason. He thinks it’s good that he and Sonny be seen in public so it looks like they have nothing to hide. They’re going to an art show. It’s nice to see a town so enamored of art. Everyone’s going to be there!

Naomi is shaving Franco with a straight raxor. “Was it good for you?” and “I need a cigarette.” First full-on James Franco shot! He is looking VERY soap opera. And hot. I suspect he’s having a great time. They make out. This is, frankly, making me a little uncomfortable. It feels too naked. I also think he’s cute, so I’m confused.

“Mad World” is playing. Yep, this show is the first to do that.

Lost-Naomi wants to do it, but he says he has to run. “What’s your hurry?” she asks. He looks over his shoulder on his way out. “They’re expecting me.”

THE END

The “next on” scenes seem to indicate that he will romance the art blonde who’s engaged to the computer nerd and murder her. Bravo, Franco. Bravo.