James Franco Adapting the Epic Twitter Saga of Zola and Jess For the Screen
Last October, a gripping yarn to rival the epic poems of Homer began popularly circulating around the internet. Twitter user @_zolarmoon, an account belonging to one Aziah “Zola” Wells, related the fantastic tale of her ill-fated trip to Florida with a young woman named Jess that she met at Hooters, and captivated a nation. In Zola’s own words, the story is “kind of long but full of suspense [laughing crying emoji] [laughing crying emoji],” stretching on for 148 pulse-pounding Tweets as she goes through this sordid account of lust, jealousy, murder, and pool use. I could not recommend it more highly; not only does Zola have a real flair for storytelling, it manages to incorporate the four elements any great narrative needs: gunplay, cuckolding, Florida, and Hooters.
When the Jess & Zola Saga gained viral traction at the tail end of October, Twitter users recognized the potential for drama in this hood soap opera and began compiling their own fantasy casts — maybe a grunged-up Margot Robbie as Jess, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Zola, etc. — but nobody had considered who might direct such a thing. And we don’t have to, because that choice has now been made for us. Deadline notes that career dilettante James Franco has signed on to direct an adaptation of this modern Ulysses with a script from Andrew Neel and Mike Roberts, scribes of the recent Sundance success Goat.
The film, which will officially adapt the Rolling Stone article “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind The Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted,” has yet to begin casting, and will have to contend with the eight other projects Franco has gestating at any given moment. This news comes as something of a disappointment, considering Franco’s poor track record as a director, but maybe he’ll fare better adapting a contemporary classic instead of Faulkner. All things considered, Zola’s definitely the Faulkner of 2015, so I guess we should’ve seen Franco’s jumping on this project coming.