David Simon's HBO Porn Drama Starring James Franco Picked Up to Series

'The Deuce' hails from George Pelecanos and co-stars Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Franco and Simon  AP Images

HBO is extending its relationship with David Simon.

The premium cable network has handed out a series pickup to period porn drama The Deuce, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. An episode count and premiere date has not yet been determined.

Starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the show follows the legalization and subsequent rise of the porn industry in New York’s Times Square from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s. It explores 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 all ended the bawdy turbulence.

The project is being written by Simon and his longtime collaborator George Pelecanos (The Wire, Treme) and Richard Price (Clockers, The Color of Money). Nina Noble will executive produce alongside Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad), with the latter having directed the pilot. The latter will not continue on with the series beyond the pilot. Marc Henry Johnson produces. In addition to starring, Franco will receive an exec producer credit, while Gyllenhaal also will be credited as a producer. 

Named for 42nd Street, The Deuce is inspired in part by the careers of twin brothers who were players in the Times Square world and became fronts for Mob control of the volatile and lucrative sex industry from its origins. Franco will play both twins, Vincent and Frankie Martino. Gyllenhaal is set as Eileen Merrell — or "Candy" on the street — a Times Square hooker and veteran with an entrepreneurial bent who is drawn into the fledgling porn industry

Gary Carr, Margarita Levieva, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Dominique Fishback and Emily Meade round out the cast.

The Deuce is one of two Simon projects in the works at HBO. The other, an untitled Capitol Hill entry, is still in the pilot stage. The series joins a roster of dramas at the cabler that also includes Game of Thrones, the third and final season of The Leftovers and forthcoming Westworld (which recently shut down production but is expected to bow this year) as well as period rock drama Vinyl from Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger. Still in the works is 18th century music entry Virtuoso from Alan Ball and Elton John.

The Deuce marks HBO's latest collaboration with Simon and follows mini Show Me a Hero, Treme and The Wire.

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