James Franco Returning To General Hospital

Deadline reports that Oscar-nominated movie star James Franco is returning to daytime TV to reprise his General Hospital serial killer/artist character Robert “Franco” Frank. Franco has had three stints on ABC‘s “last soap standing” and this return will apparently be long-term.

Franco first surprised fans and industry types when he announced he would be taking an acting job on a daytime soap back in 2009. He played a freakish performance artist and serial killer. Not only did Franco play out his character’s story arc over a few months, but he went back twice more for short stints (as you know, soap opera characters very rarely stay dead). Franco’s latest visit to the GH family was right before and after his stoned-out performance hosting the Oscars in February with Anne Hathaway.

What can I say? Times are hard, economically. Perhaps Franco is hedging his bets, making himself indispensable to General Hospital fans and the intricate daytime stories to make a little extra green between films. But with ABC cancelling long-established soaps One Life to Live and All My Children earlier this year, things don’t look too secure for the last remaining soap on that network. Soaps are an endangered species right now, and rumors are flying that General Hospital is going the way of others when its contract is up in about a year.

Perhaps this move is just more Franco weirdness. As an Oscar-nominated actor, Franco certainly doesn’t need to be taking jobs on daytime TV. I hardly need to tell you the reputation of soap opera acting, usually on par with some of the brilliant performances you might encounter at small-town community theater.

So intrigued and shocked was I in 2009 when I heard Franco was going to be on daytime TV, that I made a point to catch an episode of General Hospital. Basically, I was embarrassed for him. Even for daytime acting, his performance was terrible. I thought he must have been sucking it up on purpose, but then I realized he didn’t have that much talent. Maybe he’s simply doing it again because he realizes he has found a place where his sub-par acting is not only embraced, but heralded.