Arts Diary: James Franco the acting polymath extends his oeuvre into novel territory with 'Actors Anonymous'; Fielding's bad news for Firth; Frieze Art Fair; Male nudes at Musee d'Orsay


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The Independent Culture

James Franco – actor, artist, adept dabbler – has written a novel. Actors Anonymous is published on Tuesday and is billed as an “intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity”. “Hollywood has always been a private club,” writes Franco. “I open the gates. I say welcome. I say, look inside.” He also writes, “I’m here to entertain you but I don’t really care about entertaining you.”

The novel is loosely modelled on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps manual, with each chapter taking a different form – essay, confessional, text messages – and different voice. In one, a former child star recalls past drug binges, another is dedicated to poetry about River Phoenix.

Franco studied English at UCLA and graduated from Columbia’s MFA writing programme in 2010, when he also published his first collection of short stories, Palo Alto. He is currently enrolled on an English PhD at Yale University. At one point in Actors Anonymous, a narrator called James receives a note from a professor that says simply, “stop writing”, but since the novel is a “fiction of identity”, any resemblance to real persons is, no doubt, purely coincidental.

Colin gets the bad news about Bridget on the phone

Bridget is back and Renée Zellweger (below) is probably already scoffing cronuts in preparation for an inevitable third big screen outing. But what of poor Colin Firth, whose character Mark Darcy is killed off in Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding’s third Bridget Jones novel? Fielding had to find a way to break the news to the actor that there would be no part for him in any future film. “I did want to tell Colin in person but we were trying to have lunch, and I couldn’t really tell him why I was trying to meet him and he was in a different place,” Fielding tells Time magazine. “So I ended up telling him he died on the phone. I had to ask him if he had someone with him and if he was sitting down. It was like someone actually had died. We had to process it. And I was almost saying, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’.” At least Hugh Grant can rest easy – his caddish Daniel is still v much on the scene in book three.

T Rex meets toilet paper as Frieze  flushes out the art

Not even the toilets of London will be safe from art next week as the Frieze circus rolls into town. As part of The Moving Museum at 180 The Strand, the artist Matthew Smith is creating an installation in a gutted bathroom block. Smith’s Glam Rock Bog will host various activities including a platform shoe-making workshop, catwalking classes and a disco with T Rex tribute act. “It will be an ‘anything goes’ space,” says the artist. “There is a sense of hedonism within glam rock that I am drawn to, but I want to do something with no expectations and no sense of responsibility, to see what it feels like to make it up as I go along. I’m hoping it has the feel of playing truant from school, hiding out in the girls’ toilets, smoking cigarettes and throwing soaking wet paper towels at the ceiling.” You could call it Smith’s cistern chapel (sorry).

Bare-faced cheek from a Parisian museum

Business and art are uneasy bedfellows, so hats off to the Musée d’Orsay, which has found a fitting sponsor for Masculine/Masculin, a survey of “the nude man in art, from 1800 to the present day”. The show, featuring 200 portraits of buff men, by artists from Rodin to LaChapelle, is supported by Slendertone, supplier of “abs belts and bottom-toning kits”to insecure men the world over.