James Franco Could Star In Neil Strauss' 'The Game'

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James Franco is in talks to star in MGM's big screen adaptation of the bestselling book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss. Franco would not be playing the Strauss character however, but instead the chatacter of Mystery, a master pick-up artist who teaches Neil the tricks of the trade and introduces him into the world of "the game." Some of you might recall that the real life Mystery starred in a VH1 reality series spawned by the success of the book called "The Pick-Up Artist".

"Are you just another AFC ('average frustrated chump') trying to meet an HB ('hot babe')? How would you like to 'full-close' with a Penthouse Pet of the Year? The answers, my friend, are in Neil Strauss' entertaining book The Game." So begins, the Amazon.com description of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss. For those of you who are chuckling about the idea of a handbook for pickup artists being adapted into a big screen movie, that isn't exactly the case.

While Strauss' book does have information claiming to teach men who to pickup women, the story is a first person account of Rolling Stone writer Struss' journey into the world of pickup artists, where he not only learned how to become one, but he becomes a master teacher with a group of rotating students in a Sunset Strip mansion. The whole thing has a feel of Project Mayhem from Fight Club but without the destruction and violence. In the course of his adventures, he plays Britney Spears and Courtney Love moves into the mansion to learn some of his "game." That is, until he meets a girl who might make him want to leave it all behind.

The long history of the big screen adaptation

In 2005, Columbia Pictures acquired the film rights to Neil Strauss' bestselling pickup book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists, and About A Boy director/screenwriter Chris Weitz was at one point attached to direct.

The option expired, and rights returned to Strauss. Two years ago it was announced that Academy Award-winning USC grad Ari Sandel (West Bank Story) is in talks to direct the big screen adaptation for Lionsgate with Due Date scribe Adam Sztykiel rewriting Dan Weiss' script. Soon after, The Office writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky came on board to polish the screenplay.

And in July 2011, a whole new creative crew came onto the project to write and direct: David Levien and Brian Koppleman, who made a name for themselves with the script for Rounders, then wrote the scripts for Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Thirteen and The Girlfriend Experience .

This latest update comes from The Hollywood Reporter.

The Game

Here is the official plot synopsis from the book:

"This is one hugely entertaining book. I loved every page. And I will never let Neil Strauss within fifty feet of my wife." –A. J. Jacobs, Esquire

Hidden somewhere, in nearly every major city in the world, is an underground seduction lair. And in these lairs, men trade the most devastatingly effective techniques ever invented to charm women. This is not fiction. These men really exist. They live together in houses known as Projects. And Neil Strauss, the bestselling author, spent two years living among them, using the pseudonym Style to protect his real-life identity. The result is one of the most explosive, witty, and controversial books of the year–guaranteed to change the lives of men and transform the way women understand the opposite sex forever. On his journey from AFC (average frustrated chump) to PUA (pick-up artist) to PUG (pick-up guru), Strauss not only shares scores of original seduction techniques but also has memorable encounters with the likes of Tom Cruise, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Heidi Fleiss, and Courtney Love. And then things really start to get strange – and passions lead to betrayals lead to violence. The Game is the story of one man's transformation from frog to prince to prisoner in the most unforgettable book of the year.

The book is available on Amazon for around $20-21.