Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been many things in his career: a pro-wrestler, a tooth fairy — and, rumor has it, perhaps the next Green Lantern — but now, he's going to be a TV star. Not to be outdone by Starz's upcoming LeBron James sitcom, today HBO signed The Rock to headline Ballers , a half-hour comedy about a group of current and former football players. Written by Steven Levinson of Entourage fame and produced by none other than Marky Mark Wahlberg, the show promises to add a touch of bro-out flair to a lineup that boasts both Girls and Looking. Plus, before he made his living doling out headlocks, Johnson attended college on a football scholarship, so he should be able to supply some real lived-in pathos to the part.
Still, regardless of the show's particulars, Johnson's migration is no real surprise. Critics have been claiming for years that "TV has officially surpassed movies," is The Next Frontier, etc. etc. — and, in so doing, have heralded a mass exodus of stars from big to small screen. Once a source of stigma, the moniker "television actor" is now worn proudly by some of Hollywood's biggest names: With HBO alone, you've already got Steve Buscemi on Boardwalk Empire, Jeff Daniels on The Newsroom, Laura Dern on Enlightened. Even basic cable is getting famous faces, à la Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates in American Horror Story, and FX has managed to poach one of film's most notorious writers, Charlie Kaufman, to pen a comedy pilot starring Michael Cera.
Whether The Rock's star power will translate to HBO remains to be seen (though, given his massive earning power in movies, it's a pretty safe bet) — but either way, it doesn't seem like cable's cachet will be dwindling any time soon.
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