Tuesday, November 30, 2010
If you keep up with such things, you may know that actor James Franco, in addition to starring in movies, including "127 Hours" and "Howl," writing a book of short stories ("Palo Alto") and preparing to co-host the Oscars, is a graduate student. In six programs. Really.
He's studying fiction writing at Brooklyn College and Columbia and filmmaking at New York University. He enrolled this fall at the Rhode Island School of Design and at Yale, where he's pursuing at PhD in English. And, finally, he's studying poetry. Guess where? Warren Wilson College, just outside Asheville. (Let's pause here to sigh and vow to stop watching reality TV and start being more like James Franco.)
Why would a New York-to-LA guy like Franco choose a small MFA program in the N.C. mountains? Probably because it's so good. When Poets & Writers Magazine recently rated MFA programs, Warren Wilson ranked No. 1, tying with Vermont College of Fine Arts, among 46 low-residency programs.Folks at Warren Wilson try to keep quiet about their famous student.
Deb Allbery, MFA program director, would only tell me that Franco enrolled in 2009 and is on track to graduate in 2012. He'll likely return to Warren Wilson for a 10-day session in January.
How does he do it all? Writer Sam Anderson explored that question recently in New York magazine: "According to everyone I spoke with, Franco has an unusually high metabolism for productivity. He seems to suffer, or to benefit, from the opposite of ADHD: a superhuman ability to focus that allows him to shuttle quickly between projects and to read happily in the midst of chaos.
"He hates wasting time -- a category that includes, for him, sleeping. (He'll get a few hours a night, then survive on catnaps, which he can fall into at any second, sometimes even in the middle of a conversation.) He doesn't drink or smoke or -- despite his convincing performance in 'Pineapple Express' -- do drugs. He's engineered his life so he can spend all his time either making or learning about art. When I asked people if Franco actually does all of his own homework, some of them literally laughed right out loud at me, because apparently homework is all James Franco ever really wants to do."