It was a double blast of returns from Showtime on Sunday with the Season 2 premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters Of Sex. With the former having moved from 10 PM to 9 PM and the later at 10 PM, the shows pulled in 1.22 million and 825,000 viewers, respectively. While the Donovan debut was down 13% from the Season 1 finale last fall, it slipped just 9% from the 1.35 million who watched its series premiere on June 30 last year – that served as the lead-out for the strong debut of the last season of Dexter and become the best-ever series debut in Showtime’s history. For Sex, Sunday’s number was 17% down from the 998,000 who saw its Season 1 opener last fall. Over all plays on Sunday, Ray Donovan was seen by 1.76 million while Masters Of Sex was seen by 1.12 million.
Marin Ireland Joins ‘Masters Of Sex’; Sam Waterston Cast In Netflix’s ‘Grace And Frankie’; Ness Bautista Added To ‘Sense8′
Marin Ireland (Homeland) has been tapped as a recurring on the second season of Showtime’s Masters Of Sex. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan star as William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the pioneers of human sexuality whose research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a Midwestern teaching hospital to the cover of Time magazine. Ireland will play Pauline, the wife of Frank (played by recently announced guest star Christian Borle). The couple comes to town seeking Masters’ help in conceiving a child. Ireland, repped by ICM Partners and Brookside Artist Management, next will be seen on WEtv’s first scripted drama The Divide, set to premiere July 16.
Sam Waterston has landed a role in Grace And Frankie, the upcoming Netflix comedy starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The series revolves around longtime nemeses Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin), whose lives are turned upside down when their husbands announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married. Waterston will play Frankie’s husband, who has been keeping his secret from her for 20 years. Waterston stars on HBO’s The Newsroom — on which Fonda recurred — and toplined NBC’s Law & Order from 1994-2010. He is repped by Gersh and Industry Entertainment.
Christy Grosz is a contributor to Awardsline.
After a career mostly spent in comedy, Lizzy Caplan has taken on the serious role of sex researcher and proto-feminist Virginia Johnson in Showtime’s Masters Of Sex, based on the 2009 biography by Thomas Maier. Caplan says playing opposite Michael Sheen, who stars as Dr. Bill Masters, was clever casting on many levels. “It seems like a smart choice to put an actor as established and respected as Michael Sheen opposite a comedic actress, because it mirrors the relationship between Bill and Virginia,” she says. Caplan, who’s still not past the “blind-gratitude phase” of the role, discusses her admiration for Johnson and those awkward sex scenes.
AWARDSLINE: Did the subject matter of Masters Of Sex ever give you pause?
LIZZY CAPLAN: Not really. Of course, in reading it and knowing what was to be expected of me if I ever got the role, that’s something I think anybody would think about. But I was so enamored with this woman, and her story, and who she was, that I knew it would be such a privilege and an honor to get to play her. Part of who she was, was this unbelievably comfortable-in-her-own-sexuality type of woman in a time when that was not exactly the norm. So I knew if I were to get to play this part, I had to figure out a way to be completely OK with it, and it didn’t take very long. Clearly, I’m not squeamish about it or else I don’t think I would’ve tried (out) for it.
As women’s roles continue to expand in society, so too are their roles growing on television. More than ever, capturing the female audience is vital to a show’s success, and that was the subject of Sunday’s smart and funny “Courting the Female Audience” panel at the Producers Guild‘s Produced By conference.
Women are also, it would appear, looking for zombies, or at least one particular set of them. “The Walking Dead is the No. 1 show for women,” said Marc Juris, WE TV president and general manager. Either way, “Female viewers are much more demanding and discerning,” said Matt Warburton, executive producer of Fox’s The Mindy Project. “They care about the quality of a show. For men, fart jokes and an explosion are enough.”
So-called “procedurals” – those ubiquitous, based-on-a-real-story crime dramas – remain popular with older women in particular, the panelists agreed, although moderator Debra Birnbaum, a contributing editor at Variety, said she finds it “hard to deal with” all the genre’s “rape and torture.” Notwithstanding The Real Housewives of Pretty Much Everywhere, reality shows offer some of the best opportunities for female viewers to see real women like themselves dealing with everyday issues that affect their lives. “Reality does a much better job,” Juris said.
Christy Grosz is an Awardsline Contributor
The story of two 1950s researchers breaking ground in the field of human sexuality sounds like a natural for late-night cable TV, but Masters of Sex is much more than its title might suggest. The Showtime series—based on Thomas Maier’s 2009 book of the same name—follows the professional and personal entanglements of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, whose more than 30-year partnership resulted in bestselling books and a research institute that bears their names. Despite their success, series creator Michelle Ashford says their personal connection is what makes them perfect for a drama. “It is without a doubt one of the most complicated relationships I’ve ever come across,” she says.
Awardsline: When did you learn about Masters and Johnson enough to know they would make a good TV show?
Michelle Ashford: I had been friends with (producer) Sarah Timberman for many years, and we were looking around for a pilot. She saw in The New York Times a review of Thomas Maier’s book and said, “I think we should look at this book. This sounds really interesting.” Up to that point, I knew (Masters and Johnson) existed, I knew they were famous, I knew (they) had something to do with sex. Then I read the book. It was news as to what was really going on in that relationship and the enormous impact they had. So we optioned the book. A ton of our material is based on (it). But the reason this happened was because (Timberman) has known (Showtime president) David Nevins for many years. She saw him in an airport, and she had the book in her purse and just handed it to him and said, “Michelle and I are thinking of doing this. What do you think?” We had talked to HBO, we also talked to FX, but David immediately read it, immediately got it, (and) said, “I see this completely.”
Awardsline: How much of the personal interactions did you have to create to tell the right story?
Ashford: Well, Tom’s book is very thorough, and it’s filled with a lot of fact. And he did spend many hours with Virginia Johnson and tried to glean her feelings about things. That being said, Masters was dead, and there are a lot of gaps (about) the emotional substance of what was going on, which is good for us because it leaves us some room to say what was really happening. We can explore all the different variations of their love affair and their professional relationship.
One day after the Television Critics Association unveiled nominees for this year’s TCA Awards, the Broadcast Television Journalists Association announced nominations for its Critics’ Choice Television Awards.
FX leads the BTJA’s noms list, with 19 – followed closely by HBO which garnered 18. Topping the list of nominated series, with five noms each, are CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife, FX’s Fargo, Showtime’s Masters Of Sex, and HBO’s The Normal Heart.
Walton Goggins and Allison Janney were both twice nominated. Goggins is nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, for Justified, and Janney is nommed for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, for Mom. The two also will compete against each other in the Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series category for Sons Of Anarchy and Masters Of Sex, respectively.
Tony Award winner Christian Borle has been tapped for a recurring role on the second season of Showtime‘s Masters Of Sex. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan star as William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the real-life pioneers of human sexuality whose research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a Midwestern teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine. Borle will play Frank (Francis) Masters, William Masters’ brother. Borle’s TV credits include Smash, The Sound Of Music Live! and The Good Wife. He earned a Tony Award in 2012 for Peter And The Starcatcher. His other Broadway credits include Spamalot, Legally Blonde, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Jesus Christ Superstar. Masters Of Sex Season 2 premieres July 13.
Showtime‘s period drama continues to add to its sophomore-season cast. Courtney B. Vance and Rene Auberjonois have joined Masters Of Sex in guest roles. Vance (FlashForward, Law & Order: Criminal Intent) will recur as Dr. Hendricks, head of an African-American hospital in St. Louis whose goal is to racially integrate his hospital, and Auberjonois (Warehouse 13, Boston Legal) will play Dr. Papanikolaou, inventor of the Pap smear. Season 2 of the series starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan premieres July 13 after the season premiere of Ray Donovan.
Don’t Trust the B—- alumna Dreama Walker is set to-co-star opposite Sam Trammell in Amazon Studios’ dramedy pilot Cocked. Written by Samuel Baum and Sam Shaw, Cocked centers on Richard Paxson (Trammell), a Washington D.C. management consultant who’s estranged from his father Wade and brother but is pulled back in to the fray of his family’s gun manufacturing company after a corporate rival, run by their uncle, moves to take them over. Walker will play Wade’s illegitimate daughter Tabby, who now works in marketing for the Paxson Firearms company and butts heads with Richard.
Related: 2014 Amazon Studios Pilots
Jocko Sims (TNT’s The Last Ship) has joined the second season of Showtime‘s Masters Of Sex as recurring. He will play Robert, who first comes into Libby’s (Caitlin Fitzgerald) orbit through his sister, Coral, who is working in the Masters’ home. He is an activist with CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and has a clear eyed sense of injustice and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to see his cause through. Sims, repped by APA, Benedetti Management and Skrzyniarz & Mallean, will be seen in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Sarah Silverman has landed a recurring role in the second season of Showtime‘s Masters Of Sex. Silverman will recur in the guest-starring role of Helen. No word about the character’s function in the show, but we’re guessing she has something to do with sex. Production on Season 2 is currently underway in Los Angeles and will premiere Sunday, July 13. Silverman received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series for The Sarah Silverman Program, and was also nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Monk. But these days she’s maybe best known for the Emmy she won — for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics as one of the writers of that hummable tune “I’m F*cking Matt Damon” for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Michael Sheen came to the Masters of Sex Q&A at PaleyFest and tried to class up the joint with a lot of talk about playing Hamlet, and reading Arthur Miller as a teen only to discover Miller’s plays had no bad characters — just people making bad choices. Fortunately, he was greatly outnumbered on stage at the Dolby Theatre by the women of Showtime’s 1950s-set drama series about real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson. They wanted to talk about the drudgery of maintaining a ’50s hairdo and the best way to pee in a girdle.
Sheen, known for playing David Frost in Frost/Nixon and Tony Blair in The Queen, said playing Masters was the “perfect combination” for an actor, because he was a famous historical figure but was little known as a man and so “private” and “secretive and mysterious” that, “by necessity you have to invent a lot as well.” And while he was not looking to do television, Sheen said he was receptive to the idea, because “you can tell a story over 12 hours [that] really opens the door, as an actor, to explore character in a different way.” Pay cablers like Showtime are “a stratum of filmmaking that’s not being done in film any more. … Writing is so strong in television at the moment … the sophistication of the audience … the bar is very high, and that pushes you to do the best work you can.”
Related: PaleyFest 2014 Schedule
Last year’s freshman Showtime dramas Ray Donovan and Masters Of Sex will air as a block this summer, with their 12-episode second seasons set to premiere on Sunday, July 13. Last year, Ray Donovan launched in the summer behind the final season of Dexter, while Masters Of Sex unspooled in the fall behind Homeland. Showtime will likely use Homeland as a launching pad again this year for new drama series The Affair. Neither has been assigned a premiere date yet. Showtime’s next original scripted series premiere is thriller Penny Dreadful on May 11.
Keke Palmer is set as a recurring for the second season of Showtime’s drama series Masters Of Sex, produced by Sony Pictures Television. Series centers on the pioneers of the science of human sexuality Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), whose research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a mid-western teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine. Palmer will play Coral, the nanny hired by the Masters’ to care for their new baby. Palmer, repped by WME and Laron Entertainment, can next be seen in Flower Films horror/thriller Animal, and indies Brotherly Love and Imperial Dreams.
Annie Thurman (The Hunger Games) is set as a series regular in TNT pilot Proof, a supernatural medical drama executive produced by Kyra Sedgwick. Written by Rob Bragin and directed by Alex Graves, Proof centers on Dr. Carolyn Tyler (Jennifer Beals), a skeptical, hard-science, brilliant female surgeon with a caustic edge who has been struggling with the devastating loss of her teenage son and a growing estrangement from her surviving daughter. She is persuaded to investigate cases of reincarnation, out-of-body experiences, hauntings — all of it looking for verifiable proof to answer one of life’s greatest questions: Is death truly the end, or is there something else beyond? Thurman, repped by CESD and Treadwell Entertainment, will play Sophie, the surviving daughter.
EXCLUSIVE: Masters Of Sex standout Annaleigh Ashford, who did an arc on the Showtime drama’s first season, is being promoted to regular for Season 2. As a result, Ashford will depart her Tony-nominated role in the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots sometime in March. On Masters Of Sex, about the pioneers of the science of human sexuality Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), Ashford plays Betty Dimello, the ravenous young prostitute only too happy to get paid to help Dr. Masters in his research (which includes how women fake orgasms). On Kinky Boots, which won the Tony for best musical in June, Ashford plays scrappy factory worker Lauren. Last week, the musical smashed the all-time house record at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre with a gross of $1,912,568. Ashford is with APA and Beth Rosner Management.
While there are contradicting opinions on Homeland‘s creative direction this season, there is no dispute over the Showtime drama’s ratings direction. Airing against AMC‘s monster The Walking Dead, Game 4 of the World Series and Sunday Night Football, Episode 5 of Homeland delivered a season-high 2 million viewers at 9 PM on Sunday, up 13% over the prior week. For the night, Homeland‘s cumed viewership of 2.51 million was up 9% week-to-week and the second-biggest ever for the series behind the Season 2 finale night. In weekly viewers across all platforms, Homeland‘s third season is on track to become the most watched, averaging 6.7 viewers a week, up 25% from Season 2. Meanwhile, freshman period drama Masters Of Sex posted 1.01 million viewers at 10 PM on Sunday and 1.32 million viewers for the night for an average of 5.4 million weekly viewers.
Showtime continues to stay with its series for the long haul, giving early renewals to dramas Homeland, which will return for a fourth season, and freshman Masters Of Sex, which has been picked up for a second season. Both series have received 12-episode orders to air next year four weeks in their current runs. “Homeland continues to prove its strength for Showtime, and is one of television’s most exciting, provocative and widely discussed shows,” said Showtime Entertainment president David Nevins. “The critical and audience reaction to Masters Of Sex since its great launch has been incredibly gratifying.”
Four episodes in, Homeland‘s third season averages 6.5 million weekly viewers, up 26% from the same time frame in Season 2. The Fox 21-produced show, a best drama series Emmy winner for its first season, once again is evoking polarizing reactions with its Season 3 storyline. Masters Of Sex currently averages 5.4 million weekly viewers, 33% ahead of Homeland‘s first season.