PARK CITY, Utah — James Franco is nothing if not ambitious. The 32-year-old actor is balancing several upcoming film roles, a teaching gig at Yale and the likelihood of being nominated for his first Oscar with a new meta-art piece at the Sundance Film Festival. Franco's "Three's Company: A Drama" premiered in the New Frontier program of the fest in an attempt to, in Sundance's words, view the 1970s sitcom from "a slightly oblique perspective."
So Franco decided to re-create the first three episodes of "Three's Company" at Sundance, sans the laugh track, and play it up for its dramatic value. His film was then projected up onto four screens in the theater so that it surrounds the audience. To add to the effect, Franco re-created the living room set in which so much of "Three's Company" takes place as the theater area where the audience watches the film.
"I was just thinking, back in the day, when people were watching that show, people were probably sitting in their living room watching these other people in their living room, so I thought, let's suck the audience into their living room and then there's projections on all four walls," Franco explained. "And it's not just seeing the show on all four walls. It's like, Chrissy's on this side, and Janet's on this side, and you're in the middle."
New Frontier advertises itself as a program that "explores narrative structure, the three-dimensionality of the cinematic image, and innovations in transmedia storytelling." If the 1970s television series seems like a strange launching pad for such an introspective look at television, you probably wouldn't be more confused watching what Franco came up with than Eliza Dushku and Rick Fox were in this video.
But even though Franco is trying to play his analysis of the sitcom as a serious drama, he isn't taking the entire project without some elements of humor. He donned a Suzanne Somers wig at the installation's afterparty, sang the "Three's Company" theme song during the art exhibit, and then tried to teach MTV News' Josh Horowitz how to improvise the theme song's lyrics to make them as graphic and inappropriate as possible. Let's just say Franco was a bit more imaginative than Horowitz was willing to be in front of the cameras.
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