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James Franco returns to TV for HBO pilot about the porn industry, The Deuce

Prolific actor James Franco’s latest project is another to add to his growing list of intriguing rolls. As reported by Variety, the actor has signed on to star in an HBO period pilot about the porn industry in the ’70s and ’80s called The Deuce.

Along with Franco, there are some huge names behind the project: it was created by David Simon, who also created The Wire and Treme, alongside George Pelecanos, who also had a hand in both of those shows. The series will be directed by Breaking Bad’s Michelle MacLaren, who will also be an executive producer. In addition to starring in the show, and playing two characters (more on that later), Franco will also executive produce.

Should the show get picked up to series, subsequent scripts will be written by Richard Price, and Nina K. Noble is also an executive producer. Also producing is Mark Henry Johnson, who was, according to Variety, “instrumental in documenting the story.”

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The Deuce takes place at the peak of the professional porn era. Set in busy New York City, it looks at the meteoric rise of this industry in the Big Apple, along with the violence, drugs, and rise of HIV cases that came along with it.

Simon describes the show as “neither prurient nor puritan. It’s about a product, and those human beings who created, sold, profited from and suffered with that product.” Pelecanos calls it a “world rich in character, and a fascinating story.”

Serving as inspiration for the show are the lives of twin brothers who were heavily involved in the industry at that time, and actually became fronts for the mob. Franco will, as noted earlier, play both roles.

While known primarily for his roles in feature films, Franco’s no stranger to TV, having gotten his start on Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks, and, somewhat inexplicably, playing a recurring role in daytime soap opera General Hospital.

A show that includes porn, prostitution, the underground nightlife, drugs, pimps, corruption, and the mob? What’s not to love.

While there’s no release date just yet, filming will begin in October, and will shoot on location in New York.