Let's Process the News That James Franco Will Direct A Movie Based on Zola's Florida Odyssey

Illustration for article titled Lets Process the News That James Franco Will Direct A Movie Based on Zolas Florida Odyssey

This fall, the Internet was gripped and then convulsed by Zola and her harrowing Twitter tale of a stripping trip to Florida gone very wrong. Now, in a development we’re still working through emotionally, James Franco will direct a movie based on Rolling Stone’s story about Zola’s tweets.


Zola, whose legal name is Aziah Wells, said at the end of October that Hollywood had come knocking. On Thursday, Deadline reported that Franco will adapt “Zola Tells All,” David Kushner’s story in Rolling Stone. (The publication initially reported that Franco would also star in the film, a detail that has since been removed.)

Kushner’s piece confirmed there was indeed a trip to Florida, as well as some of the more disturbing elements of the tale: the man whom Zola called “Z” is Akporode “Rudy” Uwedjojevwe, 35; he’s been charged with sexual assault, sex trafficking, battery, and attempted pandering.


As Variety notes, Franco will direct from a script written by Mike Roberts and Andrew Neel. It’s unclear what role Wells herself will get to play in the filmmaking process, and it seems rather curious that she’s not even being credited as the story’s original author. However, she seems jazzed:

Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.

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Franco at a Hulu Winter TCA panel, January 9, 2016. Photo via AP Images

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There is no way this can end well. Zola’s story is funny but it’s also really dark and scary and nuanced about the grim realities that sex workers face. Maybe with a team of WoC behind it, you could have a funny, entertaining film that still struck home the darkness of the whole thing. But James Franco and two other White guys telling a story about how women are coerced into human trafficking? No.