Charlie Kaufman is a name that immediately grabs my attention whenever it’s mentioned. He’s been responsible for writing some great films like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the latter of which won him an Oscar. Even when his films don’t turn out particularly good, like Synecdoche, New York, the stories he tells remain fascinating.
Today, Vulture is reporting that his latest effort, “a musical satire about Oscar-bait movies” entitled Frank or Francis, is no longer happening. The film was set to star Steve Carell, Kevin Kline, Jack Black, Kate Winslet, Catherine Keener, and Elizabeth Banks.
However, Banks has stated in a recent interview that: “We didn’t get to shoot [Frank or Francis]. It was ready to go, and, as many movies do, it fell apart at the last minute.”
In case you were unfamiliar with what the film was going to be, here’s a synopsis:
Steve Carell will play former screenwriter Frank Arder, who’s segued into acting and directing with his new movie You, which has been nominated for a ridiculously record-breaking 29 Oscars. Arder’s nemesis is Francis Deems, an entertainment blog commenter. He’ll be played by Jack Black. Nicolas Cage is set to play Alan Modell, a comedian on the wane who’s hosting the Oscars. Modell’s famous credit? A wildly popular movie franchise called Fat Dad, which sounds like the sort of fake credit you might find in Tracy Jordan’s 30 Rock filmography.
Kevin Kline was to play the brother of Jonathan Waller, a director whose Oscar-bait movie Hiroshima failed to win Best Picture. Despondent, Waller and his brother (which Kline will also play) create a computer program meant to analyze all previous Oscar winners and spit out the most awards-friendly script imaginable. The result is a perfectly calibrated screenplay named God. Frank or Francis is a musical, with nearly half the dialogue sung: In particular, anything the characters are writing online will be delivered in sing-song. Oh, and did we mention that there are also two talking thumbs conspiring on behalf of a Romanian political agenda?
This sounds like it would have been an interesting film from any writer, but with Kaufman behind it, it really sounds like it could have been something special. Unfortunately, no details are given as to what caused the film to fall apart, though we guess that there were budget issues (something that’s very popular these days), or there’s always the good old “creative differences” excuse.
Personally, I would have loved to have seen this as I’ve always found the Oscars to be a ripe topic for the picking, especially given the kinds of movies they like to choose. Hopefully whatever problems the film is having can and will be resolved so it can get back on track soon.