HBO is staying in business with David Simon — the porn business, specifically.
Simon’s “The Deuce,” starring James Franco, which is set in the porn industry during the 1970s and ’80s, has landed a series order, Variety has learned.
“The Deuce” follows the story of the legalization and subsequent rise of the porn industry in New York’s Times Square from the early ’70s through the mid ’80s, exploring the rough-and-tumble world that existed there until the rise of HIV, the violence of the cocaine epidemic and the renewed real estate market ended the bawdy turbulence of the area. The series is partly inspired by the career of twin brothers, Vincent Martino and Frankie Martino, who were players in the Times Square world and became fronts for mob control of the volatile and lucrative sex industry. Franco will play both twins.
Simon co-wrote the drama with George Pelecanos. The duo will serve as exec producers with Nina Noble (“The Wire,” “Treme”) and Richard Price, who will also serve as a writer on the series, which does not have a specified episode order at this time. Marc Henry Johnson is a producer, and “Breaking Bad’s” Michelle MacLaren directed and exec produced the pilot.
Franco is also an exec producer, while his co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal is a producer. She plays a Times Square hooker with the street name “Candy” who is drawn into the fledgling porn industry.
Aside from Franco and Gyllenhaal, the cast is rounded out by Gary Carr, Margarita Levieva, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Emily Meade and Dominique Fishback.
Simon, who most recently worked with HBO on the Oscar Isaac miniseries “Show Me A Hero,” also created the premium cabler’s “Treme” and “The Wire.” Up next for Franco is Hulu’s “11.22.63,” which is based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name and premieres this February.
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|11.22.63 • News • Trailer
About three months ago, Dealey Plaza near the West End was pretty much shut down thanks to J.J. Abrams and James Franco. They were filming for a Hulu thriller series, 11.22.63, based on Stephen King’s book by the same name. You were either really mad at all the traffic it was causing or you were really excited to catch a glimpse of the movie star.
This week, the official trailer for the eight-episode series hit the web. By the looks of it, Franco, who plays Jake Epping, walks in a closet because some man told him to, and time travels back to 1960. Man Who Owns The Closet wants Epping to go back in time and stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Like any good human being, Epping does this and the closet land is a bit like Narnia. Except not at all. More like Dallas in the 1960s.
The trailer offers this little tidbit: “The past doesn’t want to be changed.” It also shows a car wreck into a telephone booth, a little bit of conspiracy (“I don’t know whether Oswald is the man who did it”), and Franco falling for a beautiful blonde, who we hope doesn’t end up being his mother. She says, “Everything you say is a lie,” because he’s not even from her decade, but she doesn’t know that yet! Oh, and Josh Duhamel shows up at some point to punish Epping for breaking some rules.
The mini-series premieres Presidents Day, Feb. 15 — on Hulu, of course. You can get a head start and just read the book.
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t’s easy to forget that James Franco is a quietly prolific filmmaker. Over the last decade or so, Franco has directed nine films, while he currently has five more in the pipeline. Tim Blake Nelson has now starred, or will star, in five of these films, and he admits that James Franco’s relentless approach to filmmaking inspired his own pursuits on his latest, Anesthesia, which the O Brother, Where Art Thou? actor wrote and directed.
I had the chance to chat with Tim Blake Nelson earlier this week about Anesthesia, during which he talked about how James Franco had been a huge personal influence on simply getting the film written, shot, and out there. Nelson said:
Weirdly, these movies I’ve been doing with James Franco were a big influence. I’ve done 6 or 7 movies with James now. Just his peripatetic attitude. He wants to get there, he doesn’t get hung up with any impediments to getting his film made. He’s going to make his movie with the resources he has to the best he can. He’s not precious at all about the process
Tim Blake Nelson has worked together with James Franco on a number of the Spider-Man 3 and This Is The End star’s projects, including Leave Of Grass, Child Of God, and As I Lay Dying, while he’ll also appear in the upcoming Bukowski and The Long Home.
While a number of James Franco’s films have been met with largely negative reviews, the actor’s directorial efforts have been getting steadily better critical responses. Sure, they’ve not been overwhelmingly popular, but there has clearly been improvement and growth as a filmmaker.
2011’s Sal premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and 2013’s As I Lay Dying was screened in the Un Certain Regard Section at the Cannes Film Festival. There’s also a healthy amount of excitement for the impending Bukowski, Zeroville, In Dubious Battle, and The Disaster Artist, the latter of which revolves around the shooting of The Room, widely regarded to be the worst film ever released.
Meanwhile, Anesthesia marks Tim Blake Nelson’s fifth film as a writer and director, and it revolves around the days leading up to the mugging of Sam Waterston’s Professor Walter Zarrow, and how the people involved in the incident are connected. It’s a subtly affecting drama that slowly builds and is buoyed by fantastic performances.
It also helps that it has an absolutely top-notch cast, with Sam Waterston being joined by Tim Blake Nelson himself, as well as Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll, Gretchen Mol, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Glenn Close. Anesthesia premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last April, where it was met with mostly positively reviews, and it finally hits cinemas on Friday.