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TCA Press Tour: 'Hung's' mystery continues

July 30, 2009 |  6:18 pm

Hung Inquiring minds at the HBO session of Thursday's press tour want to know: Why haven’t we seen Ray’s “winning tool” yet? After all, viewers see plenty all of Sookie, and then some, on the network’s “True Blood.”

“We have not shown his penis -- yet,” said executive producer Colette Burson, who tried to explain why a shot of his most marketable asset hasn’t made its way onto the show. “It’s the perfect penis. It’s perfect for everyone who comes into contact with it.”

In other words, they don’t want to let anyone down. Not yet, anyway.

Set in Detroit, “Hung” revolves around a middle-aged gym teacher-turned-gigolo who struggles with his remarried ex-wife (Anne Heche), raising two teenagers and working with his female pimp on the side.

Jane Adams, who plays his pimp, Tanya, said she recently sat next to Terrence Howard on a plane and told the actor about her new role. Howard was Oscar-nominated for having played a pimp-turned rap star in 2005‘s “Hustle & Flow.”

“He had a lot to say,” Adams said. “And then I realized, ‘You know, this has nothing to do with Ray and Tanya.”

“Hung” and has been compared to like-minded series -- “Weeds” and “Breaking Bad” -- that revolve around characters dealing with their midlife crises in unconventional ways. But producers said that Ray’s secret work moonlighting in the sex trade is almost beside the point.

“Being hung has informed his life to a degree…so it seems an accurate [title for the show],” Burson said. “But it also seems to us, on a certain level, like an existential state. He is hung.”

And on that point, the series’ star Thomas Jane doesn‘t think that Ray’s crisis is a laughing matter. “I don’t consider it a comedy. I’m not going to play something for laugh. I’m going to play it for real,” he said.

“But I’ve heard it’s funny.”

In fact, although Ray sells sex, producers say nudity wasn’t discussed while they were trying to cast for the lead role. “It was always about how they did the dung beetle speech,” executive producer Dmitry Lipkin added.

“I had to go into another room to change so I wouldn’t hit anyone in the eye,” Jane offered.

As for why he took the role, the star deadpanned, “The hours are always a consideration. How much money I’m going to make. Those are the first things.”

But, seriously, “I thought it was a really clever idea,” Jane began, but wound up summing up: “It’s all …fate and luck, man. There is no reason this show should be good. It should be bad. It’s about a guy with a big [penis who has sex with] people for money!”

-- Denise Martin

Photo: Jane Adams and Thomas Jane in HBO's "Hung." Credit: HBO