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James Franco Returns to 'GH' (Again)

Franco returns to 'GH'

Film star James Franco makes another return to ‘General Hospital’ next year.

Hollywood’s modern version of the Renaissance man is making yet another return to ABC’s flagship soap, General Hospital next year. Franco, who created headlines when he made his first appearance on the soap last year as the mysterious artist of the same name, will squeeze another return to the soap in between Oscar co-hosting duties this February. The Oscar ceremony will air on Sunday, February 27th and James Franco has agreed to return for a two-episode teaser airing the Friday before the Oscar telecast and the Monday after, according to TV Guide’s Michael Logan.

The announcement comes on the heels of the announcement that the idiosyncratic Franco will be co-hosting the Oscars with Anne Hathaway and amid rumors that he was interested in appearing in the final installment of the Twilight saga. According to Logan, Franco’s February return to General Hospital will jump start a longer arc he’s committed to for later on in 2011. Executive Producer Jill Farren Phelps, who masterminded a successful fan-involved location shoot at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art last July, made a snap decision when she heard of the actor’s Oscar hosting gig. According to Phelps, when she realized Franco would be in L.A. for the awards season, they asked if he’d consider coming back for a short run. Franco happily accepted and asked if the show could use the appearance to introduce his next arc on the show. Phelps also went on to tell Logan that Franco has expressed interest in getting behind the director’s chair at GH.

Franco, who will be among the top of nominee lists this winter during awards season, has been earning rave reviews for his performance in this fall’s 127 Hours, a biopic about mountain climber Aron Ralston who became trapped by a boulder in Robbers Roost, Utah, for more than five days in 2003. Franco is getting much buzz for his performance, in which he credits General Hospital for helping with the intense memorization skills he needed for the soap with preparing him for his 127 Hours audition. Franco told TV Guide last summer that 127 Hours director Danny Boyle handed the actor a lengthy monologue for his audition and asked him to learn it in a few minutes time. Apparently, Franco’s GH days helped him rock the audition and he got the part, in which he stars opposite ex-GHer Amber Tamblyn (ex-Emily).

The hard working Franco currently attends Ph.D. classes at Yale, has recently released a new book of short stories, Palo Alto, has premiered shorts he directed at Sundance and Cannes, attended four other graduate school programs, guest-starred on 30 Rock, hosted Saturday Night Live and debuted a multimedia art show. And now the student-artist-author-director-actor is penciling in another return to General Hospital. Mum’s the word on the details of Franco’s return to the show, but it’s safe to say that his homicidal artist character will still be playing out a non-existent bromance in his mind with Steve Burton’s hitman with a heart, Jason Morgan. Last we saw of Franco, he had plans for involving Jason’s ex-wife model Brenda Barrett (Vanessa Marcil) in his latest masterpiece.

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