Is James Franco Your New Man Behind The Curtain In Oz: The Great And Powerful?

Well, this is a horse of a different color. After Robert Downey, Jr. had to drop out playing the huckster Wizard of Oz for Sam Raimi's new adult re-imagining, the studio had their heart set on the other resident weirdo of Hollywood, Johnny Depp, to take on the role. But Depp passed and now there's a new oddball contender: professional multi-hyphenate James Franco.

The move would re-united Franco with his Spider-Man director, Raimi. The movie tells the story of how a wayward, smooth-talking illusionist was whisked, balloon and all, into the wonderful world of Oz.

Count me in as someone who thinks that Franco is a definite upgrade over Depp. I've reached a sort of saturation point with Depp and his bag of "eccentric" antics; what once seemed like zany inspiration now seems like a hodgepodge of exhausted actorly tics. If this means that we're spared Depp's "quirky" interpretation of the Wizard that draws inspiration from, oh, let's say equal parts Josef Mengele and Mr. Drummond from Diff'rent Strokes, then let us thank the god of our choice for the small mercy.

Meanwhile, while Franco himself is edging up on overexposure, as an actor, I still am hungry to see him in more roles. He's done both affable stoner and desperate marooned hiker to pitch-perfection, so I'd love to see him expand his wings even more. So, let 's hope Franco's making a trip to the emerald city some time soon.

· James Franco in Early Talks for 'Oz' After Johnny Depp Passes (Exclusive) [THR]