Franco’s status on the show had been questioned after five women came forward to the Los Angeles Times in January with allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor. After the Times report was published Jan. 11, HBO said it had reached out to staffers on the show and found no complaints or concerns raised about Franco’s behavior on “Deuce.” Franco plays twin brothers on the show, which chronicles the birth of the modern pornography business in New York City in the early 1970s. Franco has also directed episodes of the show, in addition to exec producing with creators/showrunners George Pelecanos and David Simon.
At present, the “Deuce” writing staff is at work on scripts for the second season in which Franco’s characters of Frankie and Vincent Martino are integral to the plot. A source close to the situation said there was no alternate plan for storylines should Franco be forced out. Franco said during an appearance on CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” in January that many of the accusations leveled against him are “not accurate.”
The dark cloud cast by the Times report is widely believed to have cost Franco a lead actor Oscar nomination for his work in “The Disaster Artist.” The movie had been generating strong awards traction for Franco, including a Golden Globe win and SAG Award nomination, prior to the sexual harassment storm.
HBO has taken a hard line on associating with creatives linked to troubling sexual harassment allegations. The pay cabler dropped older series and comedy specials starring Louis C.K. from its on-demand platforms after the comedian acknowledged the truth of accusations published by the New York Times in November. HBO also dropped plans for a miniseries about Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House after veteran political reporter Mark Halperin, one of the project’s exec producers, was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.
In the case of Franco, multiple women accused the actor of taking advantage of them and putting them in sexually charged situations during production on low-budget independent films. But the lack of complaints about Franco’s behavior during season one of “Deuce” and the absence of additional alleged victims coming forward publicly during the past month with appears to have persuaded HBO, Simon and Pelecanos to maintain the status quo.
In January, Simon said Franco’s conduct had been “entirely professional” on the set of “Deuce.” “I’m still reading it the same as everyone else, trying to discern what is or isn’t there,” Simon told Variety in a statement issued Jan. 11. “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. Nor has HBO been approached with any complaint. In our experience, he was entirely professional as an actor, director, and producer.”