My Ex-Gay Friend by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

DEADLINE: Justin Kelly Teams With James Franco & Gus Van Sant For ‘Michael’

By Mike Fleming Jr.

Justin Kelly, a protege of Gus Van Sant, has set a summer start date for Michael, a film that Kelly will direct that will star James Franco. The pic is based on the Benoit Denizet-Lewis article “My Ex-Gay Friend,” published in The New York Times Magazine. While there have been some gay empowerment-themed films cropping up (Van Sant and Franco did Milktogether), this one takes the opposite track. Franco is playing the title character, a gay activist who, after enduring years of taunts and struggle, becomes an anti-gay Christian pastor. Kelly, who’s repped by Gotham Group and attorney Peter Nichols, wrote the script. Benoit is repped by Zachary, Shuster, Harmsworth and Hotchkiss & Associates.  Franco, Vince Jolivette, Scott Reed, Ron Singer and Joel Michaely will produce, while Van Sant is exec producer.