HBO’s been busy building its comedy lineup recently, and this week the subscription cable network made plans to add a brand new show to the lineup. Called Ballers the half-hour comedy series will look at the lives of current and former professional football stars. It will also be toplined by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The Rock has made a successful transition from the world of wrestling to the lucrative world of acting and executive producing. Despite his experience in the movies, Ballers will mark the actor’s first big plunge into a major TV series role. At least in a major series role that will require the man to really act. He has already popped up on television as the host of TNT’s competitive series The Hero and also has plans in the works for a second TNT unscripted series. Thus, the jump to scripted TV is a big one, and it’s even bigger since Ballers has landed at a prime network.
The series stars Johnson as a man named Spencer Strasmore. The show’s all about football, but clearly The Rock is no longer in his prime, so he’ll play a retired athlete in the series. According to Deadline, the action will also star Omar Benson Miller as a former pro named Charles, John David Washington as a pro named Ricky, Rob Corddry as a financial advisor named Joe, Troy Garity as sports agent Jason and Taylor Cole as an ESPN reporter who is romantically involved with Strasmore. There’s a few more cast members already signed on to the large ensemble, as well.
Production is set to begin on the series later this year, and while we don’t have a full episode count for Ballers, yet, we do have a bit of behind-the-scenes information. Notably, Johnson will be executive producing the series, alongside his pal Mark Wahlberg, who also happens to be a frequent HBO collaborator. Showrunner Steve Levinson, Even Reilly, Rob Weiss and Dany Garcia will also executive produce.
The pick-up comes as HBO has been busy building its comedy brand. While shows like Veep and Girls have thrived at the network, more recent fairs, including Hello Ladies and Family Tree, have not done quite so well. Now that the latter two programs won’t be back for Season 2, HBO has out together the first trailer for its new comedy Silicon Valley, and just a few days ago, Tim Robbins and Jack Black signed on to star in another HBO comedy, The Brink.
I have no idea how The Rock and co. will stack up against that sort of competition, but I can’t wait to see wait to find out in the coming year or so.