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James Franco stars in an ambitious book trailer for Gary Shteyngart memoir

The trailer for Gary Shteyngart's memoir 'Little Failure' features James Franco and Rashida Jones.

By Bruna Lobato / January 8, 2014

James Franco stars as Gary Shteyngart’s husband.

Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS

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Random House has recently released a humorous book trailer for Gary Shteyngart’s new memoir, “Little Failure.” Budgets for book marketing are usually limited. But this trailer is an ambitious production with a star-studded cast.

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The video stars actors James Franco, Rashida Jones (of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”), Alex Karpovsky (of HBO’s "Girls"), and writers David Ebershoff and Jonathan Franzen.

Rashida Jones and David Ebershoff appear in the video as Random House editors, and they are the ones who receive the pitch for the memoir. Shteyngart suggests calling the new book "The Portrait of the Young Man as a Mensch" or "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Jewness." Jones and Ebershoff intervene and explain the idea of titling the book “Little Failure” instead, with a hint of witty self-deprecation.

Later in the video, James Franco appears in a pink robe as Shteyngart’s charismatic husband. Franco allegedly publishes an autobiography titled “Fifty Shades of Gary: An Erotic Journey,” which is far more successful than Shteyngart’s and that reveals details of Shteyngart’s private life.

In the book trailer, no one seems to be interested in “Little Failure,” including Shteyngart’s shrink. Jonathan Franzen plays the apathetic therapist. “‘Little Failure?’ More like ‘Little Narcissist,’” Franzen says. “I’m so sorry. Got to stop speaking the truth out loud.”

Franco also appeared in the trailer for Shteyngart's novel "Super Sad True Love Story," along with a number of well known authors.

Shteyngart told The Huffington Post, "I met [James Franco] at Columbia University... he was one of my students. You're not supposed to kiss your students but, I just couldn't help myself."

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