The Diary: James Franco; ICA; Michael Sheen; Steven Berkoff; Miranda Hart

Franco boldly goes

Continuing his bid to become Hollywood's hottest polymath, James Franco popped up at the Berlin Film Festival this week, not on the red carpet but at a private view for his first commer-cial art exhibition. The Dangerous Book Four Boys at Peres Projects includes photo-graphs, sculptures, found objects and over 20 video works made by the 32-year old actor who is preparing to host the Oscars next weekend.

The show, first seen at New York's non-profit Clocktower Gallery last summer, explores ideas of adolescent sexuality, masculinity and the film industry via works including an oversized wooden rocket sculpture, an imagined romantic tryst between the Star Trek characters Spock and James T Kirk, childhood home movies and a video in which Franco, in character as "Dickface", satirises the Hollywood while wearing a prosthetic penis on his nose.

"I think most people are sceptical of an actor having an art show at a legitimate art gallery. The idea is infiltrating the art world. A lot of the pieces are based in the film world or they are attempts to bridge both worlds," Franco told Spiegel Online. "In this show I tried to embrace the fact that I come from the movie world."

A Palace view

Bright times ahead for the beleaguered ICA. Gregor Muir, the newly minted artistic director, is now installed on site with big ideas about cohesive artist-led programming and shaking up the very fabric of the building. His first season kicks off in the summer. In the meantime, entrepreneurial administrators have latched on to the money-spinning potential of the royal wedding. Though the home of the avant garde will be forced to close its doors on 29 April, it is making the most of its plum location on the Mall. The building has become the subject of a fierce broadcasting bidding war as international media organisations, from Sky to CNN, vie for access to its Palace-facing balconies. All in all, a rather clever way to beat the looming cuts.

Sheen's passion for Port Talbot

The residents of Port Talbot will welcome back one of their prodigal sons this Easter when Michael Sheen returns home to co-direct and appear in a dramatically modern take on The Passion, inspired by Port Talbot. Born and bred in the tiny Welsh town, Sheen arrived last week to begin talks with National Theatre Wales and site-specific favourites WildWorks, who recently took over Kensington Palace with art and theatre installations. The Passion will take place throughout the long weekend with events and other "unscheduled activity" in locations all over town, from car parks and underpasses to the lifeboat slip on Aberavon Beach and The Seaside Social & Labour Club. A thousand locals will perform alongside Sheen.

Cut from the same cloth

Steven Berkoff is keeping up the family business for his production of Oedipus, which opens at the Liverpool Playhouse next week. Berkoff's father famously ran a tailor's in the East End of London. Now it has come to light that his business partner was none other than the grandfather of Berkoff's current colleague, Gemma Bodinetz, the artistic director of Liverpool Playhouse. "Steven, who is a keen photographer himself, has photographs of the old shop that feature some of Gemma's great aunts," a theatre insider tells me. "They only realised the connection when Gemma visited Steven at his home to discuss the theatre production." Small world.

Mild at Hart

One day the BBC will find something original for its talented comedians to do once their sitcoms run out of steam. In the meantime, there's always the panel show. The broadcaster has announced that next gig by Miranda Hart will be fronting an "unashamedly affectionate and upbeat" comedy quiz called Britain's Favourite, in which teams of stand-ups will rate famous people who share the same name – debating, for example, the relative merits of Stephen Hawking and Steve Davis. "It's like Top Trumps with celebrities," producers told Chortle, the comedy website. "There'll be plenty of silliness." And some pratfalls, too, no doubt.

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Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


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