HBO is still figuring out what to do about its James Franco problem. The actor, who currently stars on the drama series The Deuce (he also produces it and occasionally directs it), has recently been accused of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior by five women. At the moment, The Deuce co-creator and executive producer David Simon says he is still trying to figure out how to move forward.
“I am still reading it the same as everyone else, trying to discern what is or isn’t there,” Simon said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
He added that Franco has been “entirely professional as an actor, director, and producer” on this particular project. The actor plays two roles on the show—twin brothers Frankie and Vincent Martino—which revolves around New York in the gritty 1970s.
Franco’s reputation has taken a serious hit in the last few days. On Sunday, he picked up a best-actor Golden Globe for his performance in The Disaster Artist (while wearing a Time’s Up pin). However, social chatter around his win was dominated by rumors that he had behaved inappropriately toward women, particularly the actress Ally Sheedy, who tweeted, then deleted vague, but pointed remarks about Franco and Christian Slater, using the hashtag #MeToo.
Franco issued a mea culpa of sorts on the late-night circuit, denying the rumors, while also saying he supports women who come forward with allegations. Then, on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times published a report in which five women alleged that Franco had behaved inappropriately or sexually exploited them. Franco, through his attorney Michael Plonsker, denied all the allegations and pointed toward his initial interview with Stephen Colbert.
“The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long,” he said. “So I don’t want to shut them down in any way. It’s, I think, a good thing, and I support it.”
In the recent past, some networks have opted to make a clean break with men who have been accused of inappropriate behavior. FX, for example, cut all ties with Louis C.K. after he admitted to sexually inappropriate behavior with multiple women, though he had never been accused of sexual misconduct during his tenure at the network—and even though an internal investigation ultimately found no evidence of misconduct while C.K. worked with FX. At the time, C.K. had his own flagship series at the network and was producing four additional shows: Better Things,Baskets,One Mississippi, and The Cops, the last of which has since been canceled entirely.