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CLICK for SHOWTIME version of "Masters of Sex", A Biography of Masters and Johnson by Thomas Maier

CLICK for SHOWTIME version of "Masters of Sex", A Biography of Masters and Johnson by Thomas Maier
To order just click on this image; also Audiobook is available

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

"Masters of Sex" is the Talk of PaleyFest 2014

Watch some of the clips from Monday night's PaleyFest 2014 as the cast and producers talk about last season, this year's Season 2, and provide some gracious mentions of my book.

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PaleyFest 2014 - Masters of Sex (part 1) from brit t on Vimeo.

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!

    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 story about the GGs:

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."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NPR's "Fresh Air" Devotes Second Program to "Masters of Sex" With Michael Sheen Interview; Lizzy Caplan Appears on Chelsea Lately

Twice NPR's "FRESH AIR" show has devoted program to discussing "Masters of Sex", the book and TV show. 

As the Dec. 15 finale nears for Masters of Sex, the two main stars are doing their best to get out the word. On Dec, 10, ">Lizzy Caplan appeared on Chelsea Lately, with her trademark wit that grabbed headlines. And on Dec. 11 Michael Sheen appeared on NPR's "Fresh Air". This is the second time "Fresh Air" has devoted their program to "Masters of Sex", the first being my interview in July with host Terry Gross.
Today, Michael Sheen talked about playing Dr. William Masters on

"Masters of Sex" -- graciously mentioning my book -- and about his amazing acting career.

Friday, November 29, 2013

"Gripping" is the 'Masters of Sex' book, says Guardian, comparing to TV show now shown in UK. Calls Masters and Johnson a "A Biological Romance".

The Guardian in London offers a new review of the book and some comparison with the TV series. Here's a quick excerpt:

"Maier's gripping biography, first published in 2009, is essentially a biological romance. In 1971, the research duo got married and were held up as paragons of the virtue of a healthy marital sex life. Despite their celebrity, Johnson described the couple as "absolutely the two most secretive people on the face of the Earth". Maier, who interviewed both at length, keeps us within the cloistered, claustrophobic world of their sex research institute, and the book consequently has a concentrated energy. Masters of Sex has been reissued to coincide with the excellent TV adaptation of the same name, a medical Mad Men in which Johnson is played by Lizzy Caplan and Masters by Michael Sheen. His Don Draperish secrets are paternal abuse and a low sperm count." 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen Talk about "Masters of Sex"

Here's Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen talking about "Masters of Sex" with the folks from One of the great things about both stars is how thoughtful and insightful they are about the overall story of Masters and Johnson. I always learn something, or reflect on something new, whenever I listen to them talk about this project.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Getting to Know Virginia Johnson in "Masters of Sex" -- A Woman of Her Times? Asks The New Yorker

   It’s surely fun to compare my book, “Masters of Sex,” with the Showtime dramatic series adapted from it, both for the similarities and differences. I don’t believe in spoiler alerts -- (after all, I learned Citizen Kane died in the first scene of my favorite movie) -- so I’ve encouraged folks to consider my book as a wellspring of ideas for the TV show, rather than a creative straightjacket. In her own comparison, Michelle Dean of The New Yorker's Culture Desk blog wisely underlines what her impressions are “so far”. But I think she might be a bit unfair to Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” at this midway point of Season 1 by coming to conclusions about the Virginia Johnson character too quickly.

   Back in the 19th Century, writer Charles Dickens often serialized his novels chapter by chapter, adapting and rewriting some of the action and characters along the way, based on the public’s initial reaction. Today books are usually reviewed only after they are completed --  judged as whole works, rather than episodically or on the fly.
   But the new Dickens are TV “showrunners” --  writers like Michelle Ashford of “Masters of Sex” and Matthew Weiner of “Mad Men” -- who aren’t afforded such a luxury. Each week brings a new analysis by critics and a little impatience by the audience before a character is fully drawn.
    The character of Virginia Johnson played by Lizzy Caplan will undoubtedly transform before our eyes as the series unfolds. Like some modern-day Pygmalion tale, she goes from a lowly down-on-her-luck secretary desperate for a job in 1956, to a world-famous sex researcher hailed in a 1970 Time magazine cover story for her insights about human intimacy. But right now in this TV saga, it’s important to note that Virginia’s honest, candid comments about sex are made only to other women in similar lowly jobs like herself. Or to Bill Masters -- and only when they are alone together -- because the doctor is desperate for Johnson’s help as a female associate so he can continue his wildly ambitious sex study.
      Up to this point, others doctors in the series, both male and female, dismiss or ridicule Virginia for any comments she might dare to make. In the pilot, when Virginia momentarily bursts with excitement about M&J’s scientific findings, the university provost played by Beau Bridges ignores her and turns angrily to Masters. “Why does your secretary keep talking to me?” demands the provost, as if Virginia didn’t even exist. The seemingly ‘liberated’ comments that Virginia makes privately to Masters in the series were really the matter-of-fact insights of a twice-married woman who grew up on a farm with all that animal husbandry on display. She was rewarded in their work by Masters for her candid insights about female orgasm and other mysteries essential to the doctor’s success with their study. Yet, from their very first encounter in the pilot, Lizzy Caplan’s character admits to Masters that her independent-mindedness about sex was not something she trotted out at dinner parties.
       In my interviews with her, Johnson often underlined the duplicity of 1950s ‘good girls’ in St. Louis who played the game of Midwestern propriety, but made their own choices just as she did.       
“There were a fair number of women who were sexually active, but the ‘nice’ girls -- the ones who were so labeled, of which I was too, for that matter -- a lot of them were not,” Virginia explained early in my book about this era.
     The private sexual relationship between Masters and Johnson is particularly difficult to categorize easily. But it’s unfair to use my book to suggest the show treated Masters’ request to have on-the-job sex with Johnson as anything but a serious matter. The show does indeed reflect the book’s account by Johnson that she was stunned by Masters’ request, and the pilot ends on that very dramatic note. As the series continues, though, we will see Masters and Johnson’s private relationship change dramatically from that dismal beginning to one that becomes a remarkably equal working partnership and an eventual marriage between them.
      Were these two ever really in love? All this sex talk obscures, I might suggest, a 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 intimacy, 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.
      Of course, I’m delighted Michelle Dean let the spoiler alerts be damned and read my book. It’s always fun to compare a drama with its real-life inspiration. So far, I think the show has been remarkably true to the spirit -- and often the details -- of my biography. But let’s give the TV writers of “Masters of Sex” more time to reveal the very complex character of Virginia Johnson.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Premiere Party Photos: Maier Clan On The Town, Celebrating Showtime's "Masters of Sex", Parties Hearty Until The After-Party Party

 Here's the long-awaited photos from the "Masters of Sex" premiere party held at the Morgan Library in New York City on Thursday September 26, 2013. There were more than 250 guests assembled for the festivities. But of course, the Maier clan acted like we owned the joint and were the only ones who mattered. (well, that's true, isn't it?) Thank heavens, the stars of this wonderful brand-new Showtime series were very gracious and didn't throw us out! Only the Maier boys got invited to Lizzy's after-party party. Alas, the author didn't make the cut. Oh well, maybe Season 2!

On The Pitch: Michael Sheen and Andrew, Reade and Taylor Maier: A Great Crew, Better Futbol Players
Out of Central Casting: Teddy Sears with Joyce P. McGurrin, and  Reade and Taylor Maier
High Comedy: Nick Kroll with Andrew, Taylor and Reade Maier. Drew flew in from London for the event, haha! 

Goodie Bag Gifts: Teddy Sears
Hangs Out with the Gang
Sign Here: Lizzy Caplan autographs a note
for my sister saying she's glad my niece liked "Mean Girls"
Now, that's REALLY nice, Lizzy! 

Taylor Maier Acts Like He's Showtime Chieftain
Reade Maier contemplates his next world
to conquer

Ready To Party: The Maier Clan At the "Masters of Sex" Premiere Party
Held at the Morgan Library Sept. 26, 2013: Andrew, Taylor, Thomas, Joyce and Reade Maier

Autograph Hunters:
Joyce with my sister Diane and her husband Ken.

Monday, October 28, 2013

On The Cover of The Rolling Stone! "Masters of Sex" is Called "This Year's 'Mad Men' "

 To heck with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, it's Dr. Bill Masters & Company who are on "the cover of the Rolling Stone"! As the cover headline says, "Masters of Sex" is being called the 'New Mad Men." That's pretty good company. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Showtime Renews "Masters of Sex" for Second Season in 2014

Less than a month after its premiere, Showtime renewed "Masters of Sex" for a second season along with "Homeland." The new series is based on my biography of Masters and Johnson and was developed for television by Sony. This big endorsement by the U.S. cable network hopefully opens the door for more seasons to come. "Masters of Sex" is seen in more than 15 nations around the world and the book was recently re-issued with actors Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan on the cover, as well as a Spanish language version.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Power Showrunners and i-Poppin Praise: LA Times says Lizzy Caplan gets "rave critical notices as a character not even Shakespeare could have envisioned" -- Ahhh, the Bard! And we were aiming for Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion!'

The Los Angeles Times offers up a wonderful portrait of Lizzy Caplan and, at least to these unbiased eyes, manages to liken "Masters of Sex" to Shakespeare! How's THAT for eye-poppin' praise!
Lizzy Caplan with Reade Maier and
 his stunt double on the set of "Masters of Sex"
As the LA Times reports: "Now, she's earning rave critical notices as a character not even Shakespeare could have envisioned. In "Masters of Sex," she plays Virginia Johnson, one half of the famed sex research duo Masters & Johnson, whose 1966 tome "Human Sexual Response" became an unlikely bestseller, shattered myths about the female orgasm and helped ignited the Sexual Revolution. The drama, based on Thomas Maier's 2009 book of the same name, opens in 1956, the year that Johnson, a twice-divorced single mother, was hired as a secretary for William Masters (Michael Sheen), then a prominent gynecologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Though she lacked medical training or even a college degree, Johnson quickly became an invaluable collaborator and, later, his wife.As embodied by Caplan, Johnson is a woman well ahead of her time, at once sexually liberated and emotionally closed off."
 Congrats to Lizzy on a well-earned plaudit. And speaking of eye-popping praise, many congrats to Michelle Ashford who is at the top of the list of The Hollywood Reporter's "Power Showrunners To Watch For In 2014." As THR says: "Matching Homeland's promising 2011 launch with 1 million viewers, Showtime's period drama about real-life sex researchers Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson earned the rare distinction of improving in its second outing -- by 9 percent -- and grossed a premiere audience of 5.6 million viewers."

It's nice to be popular.