Like this, but more Dickensian

David Simon might not have a lot of confidence in his own shows, but HBO has a lot of confidence in him as Deadline reports that the network has given pilot orders to two projects Simon currently has in development. Both pilots will film over the next year, and while HBO has not yet committed to producing full seasons of either, that’s likely given the network’s track record of sticking with its creators generally and Simon specifically.

First up is The Deuce, a series about the good old days of Times Square, before the porn theaters were replaced by disgusting shrines to humanity’s most depraved impulses like Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar. The pilot, which will be directed by Breaking Bad and Game Of Thrones fan favorite Michelle MacLaren, was written by Simon and his longtime collaborator George Pelecanos and will cover the the torrid goings-on in The Deuce in the ’70s and ’80s, before AIDS and home video shut the party down early. James Franco, who we like to picture bursting through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man every time the word “porn” is mentioned in a Hollywood board room, has signed on to star; Franco will play a dual role as twin brothers who operate a Mob front in Times Square, bringing The A.V. Club’s favorite image of him to glorious, Noo Yawk-accented life.

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Then there’s the as-yet-untitled second pilot, which has a much more specific, Liz Lemon-esque sort of sex appeal. Simon and Carl Bernstein of Woodward and Bernstein fame are collaborating with The Wire producer Ed Burns and former Baltimore Sun political reporter William F. Zorzi on the pilot, which Deadline describes as “a detailed examination of partisanship and the influence of money on national governance.” James Franco doesn’t seem terribly interested in that one.