Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Visiting "Masters of Sex" in Hollywood


Hollywood is grand this time of year. The Emmy nominations are out, and "Masters of Sex" has five of them, including best actress for Lizzy Caplan. Last week, I spent five days in Los Angeles on the set of "Masters of Set", attending parties, and chatting with Michael Sheen on location. One of these days I'm going to get my photo taken with Michelle Ashford and Sarah Timberman, the two executive producers, who were so busy I couldn't stop them. Everyone was in good spirits, though tired, as the last days of shooting Season 2 were winding up. Here some of the photos from my trip.

Michael Sheen on location and in costume.
Check out the book in author Thomas Maier's hand.
Lizzy Caplan in costume as "Virginia Johnson" with author Thomas Maier

Costume expert Ane Crabtree
Amy Lippman, exec producer
and director Adam Bernstein



Teddy Sears and author Thomas Maier
at "Masters of Sex" party for press at Sony lot

Lizzy Caplan and some coffee
My son Reade Maier stands in front of Dr. Masters' MG car.

Chatting with Lizzy Caplan





Director Michael Apted at "Masters of Sex" press party

Outside the Masters of Sex Writer's Room
with son Reade Maier

Typing up "Masters of Sex"?

Reade Maier and Angela, Lizzy's stand-in

Author Thomas Maier at Dr. Masters' desk.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross Interview About "Masters of Sex" -- A Primer for Season 2 Starting Sunday July 13



Just in time for Season 2, listen to an hour-long "Fresh Air" program devoted to "Masters of Sex", as host Terry Gross interviews Thomas Maier, the author of the book of the same name that is the basis for the Showtime series. Maier is also a producer of the show. Here's a short snippet of the "Fresh Air" introduction: 

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The new Showtime series "Masters of Sex" that premieres in September is based on the book about sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson by my guest Thomas Maier, who is also a consultant for the series. Masters and Johnson became famous in the 1960s for their groundbreaking and controversial research into the physiology of human sexuality.
Instead of just asking people about their sex lives, Masters and Johnson actually observed volunteers engaging in self-stimulation and sexual intercourse. Changes throughout their bodies during arousal were measured with medical equipment. Until Maier's book, Masters and Johnson research techniques remained shrouded in secrecy, but he was able to uncover information through interviews with their friends, family and former colleagues, as well as extensive interviews with Johnson. She died last week at the age of 88.
Maier's book, "Masters of Sex," which was first published in 2009, has just been published in a new paperback edition. Maier is an investigative reporter for Newsday and is also the author of a book about the famous pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock. We're going to be talking about sex research and getting into birds and bees territory you may not have explained to your children. So parents, use your discretion.
Let's start with a clip from the pilot of the Showtime adaptation of "Masters of Sex" starring Michael Sheen as William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson. In this scene, Masters has asked Johnson to assist him with his research. She's been working as a secretary in his OB/GYN office, knows nothing about his sex research and is surprised to see him carrying a handful of girlie magazines.http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Sex-William-Virginia-Johnson/dp/0465079997

Watch "The Making of 'Masters of Sex'" -- Now for Free on Amazon or Part of the Sony Season DVD/Blu-Ray package


Michelle Ashford
Sarah Timberman
 Hope everyone gets to watch "The Making of Masters of Sex", either by buying the new DVD/Blu-Ray of Season 1, or by going to Amazon and playing this short documentary for FREE. In it, exec producers Sarah Timberman and Showrunner Michelle Ashford explain how this show was developed from my biography of Masters and Johnson. Both these terrifically talented execs carefully put the whole series together under the auspices of Sony Pictures Television and its home network of Showtime. I'm very proud of my association with them and I think all of the accolades and hosannas being tossed at the show, as it begins its second season, are because of their hard work and tremendous insights. Congrats to these two wonderful execs and many thanks for your kind words about my book.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

FIVE Emmy Nominations! Congrats to Lizzy Caplan, Beau Bridges, Allison Janney and Masters of Sex art and title experts.

Lizzy Caplan with author Thomas Maier on the set of
"Masters of Sex" during filming of the pilot in NYC.


Congratulations to Lizzy Caplan on her richly-deserved Emmy nomination for Best Actress. Kudos to Beau Bridges and Allison Janney for their guest star nominations! 
Masters of Sex earned five nominations for its premiere season including nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Lizzy Caplan, Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Beau Bridges and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Allison Janney
Season one of MASTERS OF SEX received both Golden Globe® and WGA nominations and was honored as one of AFI's Top Ten Television Programs of the Year.  Starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as real-life pioneers of human sexuality, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the series chronicles their unusual lives, romance and pop culture trajectory. Their research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a mid-western teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine. The series is an adaptation of Thomas Maier's book Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How To Love. Caitlin FitzgeraldTeddy Sears and Annaleigh Ashford also star.  MASTERS OF SEX was developed for television by Michelle Ashford (The Pacific) who also serves as an executive producer.   In addition, the series is executive produced by Carl BeverlySarah TimbermanJudith Verno and Amy Lippman.  Michael Dinner, Michael Sheen,Tammy Rosen and Thomas Maier serve as producers.  MASTERS OF SEX is produced by Sony Pictures Television.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Life.com Features "Masters of Sex" with Newly Discovered Photos of Masters & Johnson; Read Original Photo Essay about MoS and TV's Culture Today


Ahead of the July 13 Season 2 premiere of Showtime’s Masters of Sex, LIFE.com presents an exclusive essay by Thomas Maier, the author of the book on which the series is based, looking back at the revolutionary work of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson—as well as their intensely fraught personal relationship—through the lens of LIFE photos from 1966.Read More at LIFE.COM.

Read more: The Real ‘Masters of Sex’: LIFE With Masters and Johnson, 1966 | LIFE.com http://life.time.com/culture/the-real-masters-of-sex-life-with-masters-and-johnson/#ixzz36yM5QqSm

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Real-Life Masters and Johnson Come to Life! On July 9, Life.Com will offer several photos of the sex researcher as well an an original essay adapted from my book


The real Masters and Johnson are coming to Life. 
   On July 9, Life.com plans to run a photo essay featuring the magazine's original 1960s pictures of the real-life researchers, William Masters and Virginia Johnson -- including several previously-unpublished candid photos of the two never seen before.
    These Life photos were taken for a 1966 feature published just as Masters and Johnson became famous. I'm writing an original 1,200-word essay to go with these photos. It talks about Masters and Johnson as portrayed in my book and, of course, our wonderful Showtime series created by Michelle Ashford. 

              *       *      *
This time last year, when Virginia Johnson passed away at age 88, I spoke with CBS News about her legacy. It would be only a few weeks before the Showtimes series debuted. Here's the segment introduced by Charlie Rose.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"Masters of Sex" Actress Allison Janney Wins Award For Role In TV Series Based on The Book



Allison Janney, Joyce P. McGurrin and author
on the set of "Masters of Sex" during filming of Season 1
Congrats to Allison for a great performance!

(CNN) -- Allison Janney doubled down at the 2014 Critics' Choice Television Awards. The actress was the only performer to score two wins, one for guest performer on Showtime's "Masters of Sex" and in a tie for supporting comedy actress for CBS' "Mom," which she shared with Kate Mulgrew from Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black." The fourth annual ceremony was held Thursday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, and honored the best in television.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Free Book Giveaway For "When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys" -- Enter To Win in GoodReads Contest, Deadline June 22


Click HERE To Enter Contest for Free Copy

   Time is running short to enter to win "When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys" as part of the Goodreads promotional contest ending June 22. (Hope all my friends and fans of "Masters of Sex", my last book made into a Showtime series of the same name, like this new book, full action and remarkable characters at crucial time in the 20th Century).

Here some of the recommendations:
"Many great personalities appear to history in cutout. Thomas Maier reminds us that few of them succeed outside an intricate network of public and private relationships, beginning with their families. In weaving together the stories of these two, Maier has made the best sort of collective biography: expansive, intimate, captivating and, evidently, a labor of love." -Ken Weisbrode, author of Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI

"A highly enjoyable and expertly-told account of two of the most important political families of the twentieth century." -Richard Toye, author of Churchill's Empire: The World that Made Him and the World He Made"Thomas Maier has achieved the remarkable feat of offering rich new insight into the lives, achievements, and failures of two famous families, the Churchills and the Kennedys. If you think you know everything there is to know about the Churchills and Kennedys, you're wrong. Maier examines his subjects as no biographer has before. It is a monumental accomplishment." -Terry Golway, author of The Irish in America andMachine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics

Thursday, June 5, 2014

In New EW Cover, Art Imitates Life on the Couch! New Sony BluRay/DVD of Season 1 Appears This Month, with Doc about the Book turned into TV series; Season 2 debuts July 13















You gotta love how much this terrific new cover from Entertainment Weekly, featuring actors Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, resembles this photo of the real Masters and Johnson from my book. Ok, Bill and Virginia are not locked in an embrace but they do look like they're sitting on the same 1950s couch. And in both renditions, Dr. Masters is wearing his trademark bow-tie! Of course, Lizzy does a great job of channelling her inner Virginia Johnson, too!


... And let's not forget, the author gets to chat it up about Masters of Sex in the new Sony Blu-Ray Package released June 24 by Sony. Here's what the press release says:

Blu-ray Exclusive Special Features:
The Real Masters: A Conversation with Thomas Maier 
-Masters of Sex is based upon the biography of Masters and Johnson by acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier. In this featurette, Maier shares some of the most amazing discoveries he made about the lives of Masters and Johnson while researching them for his book. Maier also talks about the extraordinary influence that Masters and Johnson have had on American culture in general.

Taken from:http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Masters-Sex-Season-1-Press-Release/19746#ixzz33m34DXwe

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Watching Alan Sepinwall Watching "Masters of Sex" -- Recaps from Season 1 Recaps; Season Two Starts July 13

   With Season 2 of "Masters of Sex" starting Sunday July 13, I thought it might be fun to replay some of the Season 1 responses with Alan Sepinwall, one of America's top television critics, which appeared in his recaps on HITFLIX. Alan was encouraging the dialogue, so I usually wrote them quickly after watching each Sunday night's episodes last fall.
    Alan's essays on shows are always deep and thought-provoking, and it's been great fun to ruminate on some of these episodes and throw in my own two cents. Of course, as the author of Masters of Sex, I'm the biggest fan of the show. But I've tried to be as reflective as possible, hoping to add to the audience's enjoyment of the show. You be the judge. 
Here are some selections:

Review: 'Masters of Sex' - 'All Together Now':
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-masters-of-sex-all-together-now-blurred-lines#xajU14WwhWZgCP3W.99


This was the first episode I didn't watch in advance. But it was one where I was present for some of the filming, just like the pilot, so it was great fun to see the finished product tonight.
Last March, I was out in California on the set and watched some of the filming with my family. (For the record, only the PG-rated stuff: The scene with Bill talking to the young couple; also when Lizzy and Bill are getting dressed and he puts on his wedding).
Overall, Michelle Ashford does a fascinating job of weaving the stuff from my book into the television dramatic narrative. The scene with Ethan talking with Gini about her first lover -- Gordon Garrett -- was actually from the very opening of my book (Michelle started the pilot with the bordello scene with Bill timing the sexual response of a prostitute. Who knew Annabelle Ashford would be so funny in that role!). I made a lot of effort as an investigative reporter to find out the real name of Gordon Garrett. Virginia would only call him "the boy with fiery red hair" when we first talked about how she lost her virginity. It was the funeral home director of Golden City, Missouri who directed me to the Golden City high school yearbook which predicted Mary Virginia Eshelman (VJ) would someday marry Gordon Garrett. Even that story in VJ's life is very complicated! The Provost character played by Beau Bridges is a composite of some real-life chartacters, but Michelle adeptly adds the closeted gay factor that helps underline the sexually repression of that time. Similarly, the real-life character played by Teddy Sears was troubled by his own behavior when I interviewed him, so it's interesting to see how Michelle uses the psychiatrist (a Freudian no doubt!) for the same effect.
I always found the real-life triangle between Virginia and Bill and Libby the most fascinating because the two women were friendly, rather than rivalrous. There were always some of Libby's friends and family who felt Gini wanted to marry Bill from the outset, but the traditional home-wrecker label never really applied to her. The sexual dynamic between Masters and Johnson, at first most improper with his requirement that sex be part of the job, now is in another more ambiguous stage. And as the series progresses, it will change again and again.
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-masters-of-sex-all-together-now-blurred-lines#xajU14WwhWZgCP3W.99



As the show becomes more and more dramatic, I think this might be a good point to appreciate the use of comedy by Michelle Ashford and her writing team. What really marks Masters of Sex from any other drama series I've ever seen is the wide range of emotion, from the broad humor of the early episodes to the more heart-wrenching moments by actors like Allison Janney. Think of the range of emotions we've seen so far from Beau Bridges's character Provost Scully -- from the hilarious reaction shot when Virginia shows him the "Ulysses" contraption to his subtle reactions to the male prostitute, Bill's extortion and the complexity of his marriage. 
I always thought a light touch was essential at the very beginning of the series. Never leering or creepy or Benny Hill II, but rather something like John Madden's "Shakespeare in Love" or even the 1963 Oscar winner "Tom Jones." Part of the wit is also reflected in the quick sexy banter between Sheen and Caplan. I think Michelle Ashford's humor very much reflected my own similar attempts in the book. (The Sopranos is the only TV drama I can recall with such a use of humor). 
In these later episodes, we have seen a lot more human pathos and drama -- vulnerability of people trying to become parents, trying to figure out their sexual orientation, and most of all, engaged in an elusive search for love and understanding. Michelle has brought things a far distance -- and we can see the changes in virtually everyone, especially characters like Ethan and Scully. 
I can assure you that the relationship of Bill and Virginia -- like two dancers in the night -- will move back and forth, to and fro, much like their relationship did in real-life. Interestingly, this contrast between wit and drama comes to an apex in next week's finale. Perhaps the most amusing moment of unintended consequences occurs next week when Dr. Masters finally shows the faculty at Wash U what they've been up to late at night in the lab. But it also triggers some of the most dramatic tensions of the entire first season. I love how Michelle Ashford stretched this constant tension of comedy and tragedy in my book and how she made it all come alive! 

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-masters-of-sex-phallic-victories-size-matters#FZMkKApMJzYGz1ah.99


Review: 'Masters of Sex' - 'Phallic Victories'
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-masters-of-sex-phallic-victories-size-matters#FZMkKApMJzYGz1ah.99


I think it's always fun to compare the book and the show. The two travel on parallel paths telling the same story. A drama, by definition, is a work of fiction but Michelle Ashford has squeezed every drop out of my non-fiction bio of Bill and Gini. Each episode I'm delightfully surprised to find out something new, even in the retelling of scenes or ideas from my book. Two very different mediums, but it's fascinating to see how they can complement each other in this case.
As for the character of Virginia Johnson, she's more Scarlett O'Hara than a saint by nature, which of course is key to her great charm and why we as an audience root for her. In real-life, she could be manipulative and even cunning and I think as Season 2 unfolds, and as their story together gets even more complex, we'll see this more and more. 
I don't fret too much about openers, much like I don't care about the wrapping on a gift. But I admit I'm amused by the visual puns and really like the underlying Tango theme -- the music of love! It keeps playing in my head and sounds just like the tango music that Libby dances to with the handyman.
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-masters-of-sex-phallic-victories-size-matters#FZMkKApMJzYGz1ah.99


Review: 'Masters of Sex' - 'Brave New World':
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-masters-of-sex-brave-new-world-if-this-cars-rockin#3AioHMMTvJA95CCL.99




Alan, I thought Allison Janney's character underlined the medical fact that many women never experience an orgasm, were often called "frigid" by their doctors and husbands, and often were profoundly ignorant about their own bodies. And we wonder why Tolstoy called it "the tragedy of the bedroom"!
Unlike shows obsessed with death and violence, “Masters of Sex” is about what D.H. Lawrence called “the life urge.” Throughout my book, and certainly as the Showtime series progresses, we learn Masters and Johnson’s study of sex was designed to help couples in a way that only medicine could do, but so often refused. The clinical “how to” documentation in their lab was aimed at understanding just how the bodies worked so they could come up with treatments and therapies that proved remarkably successful. The humor and joy of discovery is what enlivens the first episodes of Masters of Sex”, from that daunting “Ulysses” contraption and the youthful lust of young people dropping their pants in their name of science to their filmed “in living color” repudiation of Freud’s theories about female sexuality that forced a male-dominated society to rethink its views. The cavalcade of people who sought their aid -- seeking to heal their broken bedrooms or to have a child after years of trying -- comprised a veritable “Canterbury Tales” of sexual woes and problems. Unlike other 'anti-heroes', the pioneering risks by Masters and Johnson were usually meant to help others and not just themselves.
All this sex talk obscures, I might suggest, an even deeper truth about “Masters of Sex”. The heart of Masters and Johnson’s own story is about the elusiveness of love. For all of their studies about the “how to” of love, Bill and Gini had a hell of time letting each other know how they felt personally. There were fascinated with each other, like two batteries both attracting and repelling. Even after Johnson gained a co-byline with Masters on their heralded books, even after they shared equally in their worldwide fame and glory, and even after they married for twenty years, Masters and Johnson seemed clueless about love. Particularly in this sense, their story speaks to the state of relations between men and women in our modern era.

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-masters-of-sex-brave-new-world-if-this-cars-rockin#3AioHMMTvJA95CCL.99


I think it's always fun to compare the book and the show. The two travel on parallel paths telling the same story. A drama, by definition, is a work of fiction but Michelle Ashford has squeezed every drop out of my non-fiction bio of Bill and Gini. Each episode I'm delightfully surprised to find out something new, even in the retelling of scenes or ideas from my book. Two very different mediums, but it's fascinating to see how they can complement each other in this case.
As for the character of Virginia Johnson, she's more Scarlett O'Hara than a saint by nature, which of course is key to her great charm and why we as an audience root for her. In real-life, she could be manipulative and even cunning and I think as Season 2 unfolds, and as their story together gets even more complex, we'll see this more and more. 
I don't fret too much about openers, much like I don't care about the wrapping on a gift. But I admit I'm amused by the visual puns and really like the underlying Tango theme -- the music of love! It keeps playing in my head and sounds just like the tango music that Libby dances to with the handyman.

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-masters-of-sex-phallic-victories-size-matters#FZMkKApMJzYGz1ah.99




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lizzy Read The Book Not Once But TWICE: It Ain't Homework, It's Fun! The Whole Cast Talks About Season Two


Lizzy Caplan really knows her stuff. Not only is she a great actress and lots of fun to be around, she's also a literary buff, at least when it comes to reading "Masters of Sex". There's plenty to absorb and consider if you re-read the book, I promise. Here's what the Hollywood Reporter said today:

Reading The Book
The creators expressed their gratitude for the biography of the two sex research pioneers by Thomas Maier, as it provided much of the necessary research for them ahead of time. When asked if she read the book beforehand, Caplan deadpanned, "I don't read, Michael?" to which star Michael Sheen confirmed he did: "If you're going to play a real person, you have a duty to read a little about them." In a more sincere moment, Caplan later admitted to reading Maier's work, not once but twice.





Sunday, April 13, 2014

A New Season With Punch: Glimpse of Season 2 for "Masters of Sex", which debuts July 13 right after "Ray Donovan"; Did you READ The Book Yet So You Can Study Up on The TV Drama?


Showtime just released this glimpse of Season 2 from "Masters of Sex", which includes a new stylish look to Lizzy Caplan's hair as Virginia and Michael Sheen in old-style workout sweats as Dr. Masters,  out for an early morning jog before his medical rounds, just as described in the book. It's nice to see our old friends again, a few months after their Golden Globe-nominated first season.
  Please pick up the biography NOW and be ready for Season 2.  I don't believe in spoiler alerts so I've recommended that fans of the show read the book. Many fans on social media refer to it, suggesting that reading the text in advance often adds to their pleasure with the show. I've had the same experience in a way. Often I find myself completely surprised by what I see on the TV screen even when the series portrays scenes directly from the book. Showrunner Michelle Ashford's adaptation is very faithful in spirit and tone to my portrayal of Masters and Johnson, and many of the exact details of their life and work. But I always feels a freshness to what I see and a constant delight, because I believe Michelle has turned this drama into her own work of art.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ready, Set, Film! Season 2 of "Masters of Sex" Starts This Month: Actor Michael Sheen Says First Few Episodes He's Read are "Terrific."

So far from what he's seen in the scripts, actor Michael Sheen says the second season of "Masters of Sex" looks like a winner and begins filming in two weeks. "It really takes things even further," he says of the early episodes he's read for Season 2. "It's really exciting." A Golden Globe nominee for Season 1, Sheen said he was pleased by the critical acclaim and praise from passersby who tell him how much they like show. "That's all you want as an actor really," he said. (See "Masters of Sex" comments starting at 1:12 on this tape).



Listen to Lizzy Caplan here talk about the show and about listening to the tape I sent her from some of my interviews with the real Virginia Johnson (around 18:00 on this video).

)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

PaleyFest 2014 features "Masters of Sex" on March 24, just as filming begins for Season 2

     Filming for Season 2 of Masters of Sex" starts in March, just in time for the show to be featured at the PaleyFest 2014 in Los Angeles on March 24. Read up on the book and you'll be already for the new season!
   





Saturday, February 1, 2014

More Coverage of "Masters of Sex" In 2014; Wall Street Journal Talks About Translating Book Into TV Show

The coverage about "Masters of Sex" continues into 2014, with Season Two soon about to begin filming. This spring, Sony is expected to release the DVD boxset of Season 1. But of course, fans of the show can right now learn a lot more by reading the book, comparing and contrasting things.
   Here's a recent Wall Street Journal article, a recent radio interview, and links to the writing of "Masters of Sex" contained within a terrific profile of showrunner Michelle Ashford. Congrats to all!

From WSJ.com:
    Seeing his biography of sex researchers Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson turned into a Showtime television series was like winning the lottery, writer Thomas Maier said, though he had to be convinced that the TV offer was better than proposals to make a movie of it. Maier, who has been a reporter at the Long Island, N.Y., newspaper Newsday for 30 years, said he had two or three serious offers to turn his 2009 book, “Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love,” into a film but the show’s producers persuaded him that it could be done as a high-quality TV series, such as AMC’s “Mad Men.” The Showtime series, “Masters of Sex,” debuted last fall and has been renewed for a second season. Maier, who has written three other books—about publisher Si Newhouse, baby expert Dr. Benjamin Spock and the Kennedy family, spoke to journalists at a workshop Friday in New York. The workshop was sponsored by the nonprofit Investigative Reporters and Editors organization. He is happy with his decision, noting the huge influence of a successful TV show. For example, a recent episode of the game show “Jeopardy” featured a category titled “Masters of Sax,” about jazz musicians, he pointed out. While Masters had died five years earlier, Maier said Johnson, who died last summer, cooperated with the book. Maier said he was prepared to be tossed “a cookie” and told to go away after he sold the book rights to the TV producers, but they gave him a producer credit and have listened to his ideas. “It’s been a terrific experience.”He has sent the producers about 20 memos over three to four years, most dealing with the tone of the series. While it deals with a serious subject, it’s important to leaven the drama with humor, he said. Maier said he thought about writing the biography after he interviewed Masters for a newspaper article at his retirement in 1994. He began work on the book in late 2006. Masters, a gynecologist and faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis, hired Johnson as a research assistant in 1957 to help conduct a broad study of human sexuality. He divorced his wife and married Johnson in 1971; they divorced in 1993. Their work focused on how the human body responds during sex. Maier said Masters realized that he needed a female partner to help conduct the study and said Johnson was instrumental in persuading both women and men to participate. 
Listen to interview by clicking image
Maier said Sarah Timberman, executive producer of CBS’s “Elementary” and  FX’s “Justified,” read his book and persuaded Sony Pictures to buy it. She was executive producer of the pilot, which was shot on Long Island. The show runner and executive producer is Michelle Ashford, who wrote the 2010 miniseries “The Pacific.” About 80 percent of the pilot came from his book, Maier said, although it started with Chapter 7, which depicted the meeting of Masters and Johnson. Ashford has “bent over backward to be true to the book,” he said. And while his book was nonfiction, with all the facts documented, he has been thinking about fictional story lines that the TV drama might explore in its second season and has shared them with the show’s creators in a memo. Maier said working in different forms of storytelling has made him a better reporter, prompting him to think “how do I tell the story in the most vivid way.”



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Year Of 'Golden Globes' in Journalism and Television

      Alfred A. Knopf famously said, "A publisher is known by the company he keeps." That could be said for writers too. In 2013, I was fortunate to be involved in projects that gained attention for the so-called 'Golden Globes' of Journalism and the real ones with Television Drama. 

                            In June, I and News 12 Long Island news director Pat Dolan picked up the so-called ‘Golden Globes of Journalism’  – actually the national Sigma Delta Chi Award for online investigative reporting -- for our joint probe of the international trade in human body parts, along with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Newsday and News 12 were part of a 14-member investigative team, including NPR's "All Things Considered", that were part of this award-winning project. We ran our version as a three-part TV series “The Body Business” with a Newsday story in April. This prize is the second time I won the national Sigma Delta Chi award.  Attached is a photo of myself with Pat at the National Press Club in Washington DC, accepting the honor for the ICIJ group at the awards ceremony.
 In December, “Masters of Sex” – the Showtime series based on my book – won two real Golden Globes nominations for best drama and best actor (Michael Sheen). As the author and a producer,  I hope to be there for the awards in LA on Sunday Jan. 12. Also the American Film Institute selected ‘Masters of Sex’ as one of the best 10 TV shows of 2013. The pilot for the show was filmed in New York City and Long Island, including several scenes at the old estate of former Newsday publisher Harry Guggenheim and Alicia Patterson. Here is Newsday.com story about the GGs:  http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/tv-zone-1.811968/masters-of-sex-breaks-into-the-golden-globes-1.6593750


Friday, December 13, 2013

Live Chat About "Masters of Sex" -- 13 Things You Didn't Know


'Masters of Sex': 13 things you didn't know

Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy
Photo credit: AP | Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Showtime's "Masters of Sex."
Friday we chatted with Thomas Maier, whose "Masters of Sex" book has been translated into a hit (and Golden Globe-nominated) Showtime series. Maier, an investigative reporter and 30-years-and-counting Newsday employee, released "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love," in 2009 and is a show producer.
The "MOS" season one finale airs Sunday, and Maier says it ends in a way "that I have always argued would be the right way to end it." He expects "viewers will be very surprised with what happens between Masters and Johnson in the finale. It will raise a whole new set of questions about the future of their sex study, about Bill's professional reputation and about the emotional relationship between Bill and Ginny."
In anticipation of these big reveals about the show's pioneering sex researchers, Maier offers up insights about the cast, the show's Long Island connections and who the real Virginia imagined might portray her on screen.
1. The book evolved out of a Newsday article Maier did in 1994 on the day of Masters' retirement.
It was a short little article, but the story of Masters and Johnson stayed with me for over a decade," Maier says. "In 2006, I had the idea of coming back to Masters and Johnson. By then Masters was dead, but Virginia Johnson agreed to talk to me. She was 80 years old and talked about writing her own memoir but never did." 
2. John Madden, who directed the pilot, convinced Michael Sheen to take on the role of William Masters.
"Madden, who directed the Oscar-winner 'Shakespeare in Love,' was instrumental in convincing Sheen to play the role of Masters."
3. Michael Sheen "offered to shave his head for this show."
4. Actor Paul Bettany was originally slated to play Masters.
"The dynamic between the two stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan is essential to the show."
5. The real-life Virginia would have liked Joanne Woodward to play her in the story of her life.
"I once asked Virginia, if there was a movie made about her who would she like to see as the actress playing her. She said Joanne Newman and I realized she was talking about Joanne Woodward, who was the actress/wife of Paul Newman. I think if Virginia was still alive she would be deeply pleased by the show and particularly by the portrayal of Lizzy Caplan."
6. Of her relationship with William, Virginia said, "We were sexual athletes."
7. The character of  Dr. Lillian DePaul (played by Julianne Nicholson) is not based on a real person.
"Her character is primarily fictional. It's an invention of [executive producer] Michelle Ashford's. I think her role serves the purpose of helping to move the story along in several respects. It helps define the role of Johnson in the context of the medical world and it underlines that Johnson had no credentials and was often looked down upon by all the doctors."
8. The role of Barton Scully (Beau Bridges) is a composite of two characters in the book.
9. Bridges was the first "Masters" cast member to sign Maier's book.
"I think one of the daring aspects of the show is how Beau Bridges has been portrayed as a fully rounded man who is a closeted gay who is living a lie in one sense and yet seems to be an all-American success story. This has never been portrayed on TV like that. I think Beau has been amazing. At age 72, with all of his accomplishments, to take on such a complicated role that is breaking so many taboos is extraordinary. He has my everlasting gratitude."
10. Parts of the pilot episode were filmed on LI.
"The opening scene in the pilot begins at the old home of Newsday's former owner [and co-founder], Harry Guggenheim, in Sands Point. It was a blast to see the old home of the Newsday publisher portrayed in the show as Washington University in St. Louis.
11. The real-life Masters and Johnson relationship endured more than 30 years.
"It reflected so many of the changes of America from the time in the mid-'50s until essentially they broke up in 1991. We go from sexual innocence to the AIDS crisis."
12. Maier initially preferred that "Masters of Sex" be turned into a film.
"I was hell-bent that the book would become a movie and my eyes were opened by the producers at Sony and by my own wise agent in L.A .who said, 'You could bring a whole new depth and drama to the storytelling by telling it in a series over episodes in a number of years.' That point was solidified to me when they signed up Sheen to play Masters. … Ashford has great artistic ambitions. She deeply understands some of the deepest themes of what I addressed in my book."
13. Maier loves the show.
"What's astounding to me is how much the show has squeezed every scene and character and laugh and tear that's in the book and done it in the form of a television drama. I went into this open-eyed and have been part of the creative process. It has been one of the great joys of my career."