The Oscar-nominated actor, who will also serve as co-host of the 83rd telecast (Sunday, Feb. 27, 8:30PM on ABC), has reportedly closed a deal to star in the highly-anticipated 'Wizard of Oz' prequel 'Oz: The Great and Powerful,' based on the novel by L. Frank Baum.
The film, in which Franco will chronicle the titular character's early days as a young illusionist, will reteam him with 'Spider-Man' director Sam Raimi, with a script by Mitchell Kapner ('The Whole Nine Yards') and Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire ('Rabbit Hole').
Robert Downey Jr. was originally set to star in the film, until he dropped out of the project in January. Johnny Depp was rumored as a possible replacement, but reportedly passed.
This will be about the 500th upcoming project for Franco. This spring, he'll appear in 'Your Highness,' from 'Pineapple Express' director David Gordon Green, followed by this fall's 'Planet of the Apes' prequel 'Rise of the Apes.'