‘Milk’ Star to Be Published Writer | Jacko Passes Medical Tests, May Announce Shows Thursday | Sightings: Jessica, Geoffrey, Placido; Broadway Stars

‘Milk’ Star to Be Published Writer

James Franco, the hot young actor who won an Indie Spirit Award a couple of weeks ago for his work in "Milk," is about to be a published writer.

Franco has sold a collection of short stories to the Scribner imprint of Simon & Schuster. His powerhouse agent, Richard Abate, of Endeavor, confirmed it yesterday.

This is great news for Franco, who’s enrolled in the graduate creative writing department at New York University and is also taking writing classes at Columbia. At age 30, he takes his writing career seriously, and has even turned down acting work to continue with his education.

Publishing also runs in the family. Franco’s mom, Betsy Franco, is a well known bestselling children’s book author.

It’s unknown how much Scribner’s paid, or when the book will be published. Franco still has this semester and at least all of next year to go in the writing programs. Certainly, the celebrity value of his name will help sell books. But Scribner is a quality imprint; they wouldn’t have taken the stories if they didn’t think they were good.

Franco is keeping his acting life literary, too. He’s just signed to play late poet Allen Ginsburg in Howl, a film about Ginsberg’s obscenity trial for the poem of the same name.

Jacko Passes Medical Tests, May Announce Shows Thursday

Michael Jackson has passed the required medical tests so he can perform this summer in London.

Jackson — I can tell you exclusively— has no looming diseases or any other physical ailments that would prevent him from getting insurance or making his commitment to AEG Live for 10-30 shows this year. He received a clean bill of at least physical health.

Jackson arrived at the Lanesborough Hotel Tuesday, a pricey spot that is a converted hospital.

As this column first reported in December 2007, Jackson will perform at the O2 Arena outside London later this summer. AEG Live has guaranteed him $10 million for 10 concerts. If the shows are well received and attended, and Jackson can make the commitment, AEG Live will have him do a total of 20-30 shows with a possible $30 million total.

It's a great deal for a faded pop star who hasn't performed live in an arena setting since 2001. All he has to do is perform his "Thriller" album and a few miscellaneous hits.

The deal solves Jackson's immediate cash problems. He owes $7 million to Prince Abdulla of Bahrain in a settled breach of contract suit. He's also possibly over $50 million in debt to Colony Capital LLC. Colony's emissary, mysteriously named Dr. Tohme Tohme, is Jackson's manager now, too.

If Jackson were smart, he'd include his brothers and sister, cut them in for a little action, and make the O2 Arena shows a family affair. Jackson's performance with his brothers at his 30th anniversary shows at Madison Square Garden in September 2001 were the highlights of the concert.

Stay tuned....

Sightings: Jessica, Geoffrey, Placido; Broadway Stars

Yes, that was Jessica Lange having a quiet supper last night at the Waverly Inn with publicist extraordinaire Leslee Dart. Lange is getting ready for the premiere later this month of her HBO movie "Grey Gardens" based on the Maysles brothers famed documentary. Drew Barrymore co-stars. And yes, Jessica Lange in person is hot stuff, no doubt about it…

Also in the Waverly on a crowded Tuesday night, braving frigid subzero weather: owner Graydon Carter fresh from his Vanity Fair victory in Hollywood, Revlon’s Ronald Perelman, and financier Vivi Nevo

…And yes, that was opera star — no, legend — Placido Domingo on the red carpet at the Oscars last week. Somewhere in the mix mention of this towering artist got lost. But really, wasn’t he the biggest star there?...

…Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush — he won for "Shine" in 1997 — at the opening of "Guys and Dolls" on Broadway. He’s in town for his own Broadway play, Ionesco’s "Exit the King," in which he will star opposite another Oscar winner, the formidable Susan Sarandon…Are all these people really going to be on Broadway at the same time? Rush, Sarandon, Jane Fonda, Oliver Platt, plus the God of Carnage cast (Gandolfini, Harden, Daniels, Davis), Mercedes Ruehl, plus Brian Kerwin’s in "August Osage County," Mary Louise Parker’s in "Hedda Gabler," Angela Lanshury and Christine Ebersole are in "Blithe Spirit," Joan Allen, Jeremy Irons, and Marsha Mason are in "Impressionism," as well as that whole all-star gang out there in Brooklyn at BAM finishing up "Winter’s Tale" and "Cherry Orchard." And the show everyone’s raving about? The new production of "Our Town," produced by Jean Doumanian at the Barrow Street Theater…