Is James Franco Really Returning For The Deuce Season Two?

Photo: Courtesy of HBO/Paul Schiraldi.
James Franco will likely be in season two of The Deuce, David Simon's slow-burner of a TV show set in Manhattan in the 1970s, despite the allegations of sexual misconduct published in January. Sunday night, Megan Abbott, a staff writer for the show, told Refinery29 on the red carpet of the Writers Guild Awards that he would be returning for the next season, which is already in development.
"Yes. As far as I know," Abbott said. She also told Refinery29 that, though the show would hop six or seven years ahead, time-wise, Franco's character would likely still be involved.
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"We're jumping forward about six years or so, so we'll be in '77 or '78," Abbott revealed, adding that "for the most part," the same characters from season 1 would carryover. "I can't reveal more than that," she admitted.
In the first season of The Deuce, Franco played a role in almost every facet of production. He directed two of the eight episodes in season one, and he executive produced alongside Maggie Gyllenhaal, George Pelecanos, and David Simon. On top of all that, Franco played not one, but two characters. Franco's twin brothers Vinnie and Frankie Martino were the eye of The Deuce's storm — creators David Simon and George Pelecanos have said in interviews that they based the show on stories from a Times Square bartender who, much like Frankie Martino, had a twin.
Neither HBO nor Simon, the show runner, ever confirmed that Franco wouldn't be returning, although his participation seems questionable, given the allegations of sexual harassment against the actor published in January. The LA Times published the accounts of five separate women who recounted being harassed and assaulted by Franco. The actor, via his attorney, has maintained that the allegations are false, although he said on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, "If I have done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to."
After the allegations surfaced, Simon told The Hollywood Reporter that he was "trying to discern what is or isn't there."
"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 said in a statement.
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Variety also reports that the writing staff of the show is currently plotting scripts in which Franco's characters are essential. Seeing as Vinnie Martino is the show's nexus, The Deuce cannot exist — at least in its current format — without him.
Following the accusations, Franco has been relatively visible. He discussed the allegations openly on both Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Though he didn't walk the red carpet, the actor did attend the SAG Awards in late January. Thus far, Franco's career has been hurt in only one way: He was not nominated for an Oscar. On January 7, he collected a Golden Globe for his role as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Franco was also reportedly scrubbed from the Vanity Fair Hollywood cover.
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