HBO has given a series greenlight to “Ballers,” a half-hour comedy starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, reports Deadline. The series, which was ordered to pilot back in May of last year, will be the actor’s first lead role in a scripted series (or not, depending on how you want to categorize professional wrestling).
“Ballers,” which was written by Stephen Levinson (“Entourage”), is set in Miami and is about a group of current and former football players. Johnson is playing retired athlete Spencer Strasmore. Omar Benson Miller (“Miracle at St. Anna”) is Charles, a former pro athlete looking for what’s next, and John David Washington (son of Denzel) is Ricky, a competitive, spiritual pro. Rob Corddry, Troy Garity, Donovan Carter, Jazmyn Simon, Taylor Cole and LeToya Luckett also star.
“Ballers” is executive produced by Mark Wahlberg, who starred with Johnson in “Pain & Gain” and who currently produces “Boardwalk Empire” for HBO. Johnson, Levinson, Even Reilly (the showrunner) and Peter Berg (who directed the pilot) are also EPing.
HBO’s had a recent run of smaller scale half-hour projects like “Girls,” “Looking,” “Getting On” and the now canceled “Hello Ladies” and “Family Tree.” With big stars attached, “Ballers” and the other recent pickup “The Brink,” with Jack Black and Tim Robbins, are steps in the other direction.