David Simon on James Franco Claims: HBO Is "Trying to Discern What Is or Isn't There"

The Deuce - James Franco- Publicity-EMBED 2017
Courtesy of HBO

Amid sexual misconduct allegations being leveled at James Franco, HBO and the Franco-starring show The Deuce are taking a wait-and-see approach.

"I am still reading it the same as everyone else, trying to discern what is or isn't there," co-creator and executive producer David Simon said Thursday in a statement. "Personally, I can only speak knowledgeably to The Deuce. I've checked with all my fellow producers and other personnel. We have no complainant or complaint or any awareness of any incident of concern involving Mr. Franco."

Simon added that the pay cabler has not been approached with any complaints regarding Franco. "In our experience, he was entirely professional as an actor, director and producer," he said.

Earlier on Thursday, five women accused the actor of sexually inappropriate or exploitative behavior, according to the Los Angeles Times. Two of the women who spoke to the Times had first taken to Twitter to voice their claims after Franco, wearing a Time's Up pin, took home the best actor Golden Globe on Sunday night for his role in the movie The Disaster Artist. The new accusations detailed a "culture of exploiting non-celebrity women, and a culture of women being replaceable" to the film and TV actor, director and teacher.

Franco has denied the Twitter accusations and, through his lawyer, disputed all the allegations in the Times story. When reached by The Hollywood Reporter, his rep referred THR to his on-air statements given on late-night TV the two nights prior.

On Tuesday, Franco told The Late Show's Stephen Colbert that none of the claims made on Twitter were accurate but that he supports both the Time's Up movement and women speaking out. "If I've done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to. I don't know what else to do," he said. During a Wednesday appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, he reiterated those sentiments.

"There are stories that need to get out," Franco told Meyers. "There are people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story, but I believe in, you know, these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say just because I believe in it that much, and if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to try and actively refute things, then I will. Because I believe in it that much."

On The Deuce, a drama about the dawn of the porn industry in 1970s New York, Franco stars in a dual role as twins, playing Times Square bartender Vincent and his brother, Frankie. The actor also directed two episodes in the eight-episode first season. The Deuce, which also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, was renewed for a second season shortly after its Sept. 10 debut.