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Casting Update: Christian Borle Joins Masters Of Sex

Christian Borle is joining the cast of Showtime’s Masters of Sex.

The Smash alum is the latest actor to join a long list of recurring guest stars for season two, which already includes Betsy Brandt, Sarah Silverman and Keke Palmer. Borle will recur as Frank Masters, William Masters’ (Michael Sheen) brother.

The Tony-winning actor is known for his work onstage and onscreen. In addition to appearing in Broadway productions such as Spamalot, Legally Blonde and Peter and the Starcatcher (for which he earned his Tony in 2012), Borle has starred in TV’s Smash, The Sound of Music Live! and appeared on The Good Wife.

Masters of Sex also stars Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin FitzGerald, Teddy Sears, Helene Yorke, Beau Bridges and Allison Janney.

The hourlong drama chronicles real-life sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson’s (Caplan) journey from their research in a Missouri hospital to their public debut on the cover of Time magazine.

At a Television Academy panel in April, executive producer Michelle Ashford talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the practical challenges of filming with the new castmembers: “Because we’ve hired the most fantastic cast in the world, they are all really busy so getting them in one place at the same time has been crazy.”

Season two of Masters of Sex premieres Sunday, July 13, at 10 p.m. on Showtime.


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THR: ‘Masters of Sex’ Cast Takes Jabs at ‘Game of Thrones,’ Talks Awkward Moments on Set

Allison Janney was on board to join Showtime’s period drama Masters of Sex, that is until the creators told her she may actually have to have sex.

“Do you know how old I am?” she recalled of her response at an Academy of Television Arts & Sciences panel Tuesday night.

The 54-year-old actress revealed that adjusting to the role was a challenge at first. “But then …” she laughed, gesturing to her attractive 37-year-old on-screen sex partner Teddy Sears, seated next to her on stage.

Over the course of the hourlong discussion, the show’s cast and creators dished on difficult season-one sex scenes, took digs at Game of Thrones, and delved into cultural issues including acceptance and equality.

Below are seven highlights from the evening:

1. Masters of Sex is no Game of Thrones

The idea that Masters altered expectations about sex on television by the way the series portrays its steamy nude scenes in context was a theme that ran through the night. Star Lizzy Caplan, who had her fair share of sex scenes in the first season, assured the audience that the scenes never feel gratuitous because they are always in service of a larger story. “Our show is about sex and intimacy whereas other shows are about other things, maybe dragons,” she joked, continuing after the audience’s laughter had subsided, “No disrespect at all, but it does feel at times that it’s like, ‘Time out dragons, let’s watch these people get it on with each other!’ ”

2. Girl power

“Our show is led by women, so they understand,” said Caplan, praising the vision of executive producers Michelle Ashford and Sarah Timberman, adding with a laugh, “Yeah, women!” Annaleigh Ashford told the packed room that it was a gift to play a strong women onscreen, a description she believes fits her character, Betty, perfectly. Michael Sheen even chimed in to represent the male portion of the cast: “I don’t think it’s a pro-woman show,” he said. “It’s a pro-human being show. … All the characters are equal, and it’s striking how many shows that’s not the case.”

3. Relevancy today

Some castmembers noted that the while the show deals with 1950s issues, the problems are not unlike those we currently face. Caplan told The Hollywood Reporter, “I hope the show makes people ask themselves: Are we so much more advanced than we were in the ’50s — especially women?” She noted that she feels most of the questions her character Virginia asks are issues women are still struggling with today. Beau Bridges agreed, touching on a subject dear to his character: “Our human society today has, unfortunately, come up a little short in terms of the gay lifestyle. We’re not that accepting.”

4. Honoring the facts

Ashford and Timberman revealed that they felt compelled to honor the real-life story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson: “We all feel a real obligation and also we want to tell the real story of these people.” Honoring the facts, however, doesn’t mean the writers won’t take creative liberties where there’s gaps in the actual story. In fact, they teased that the coming season will feature material absent from the book on which the series is based.

5. 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.

6. Impressive script

Several castmembers suggested they were sold on the series after reading the pilot. Caitlin FitzGerald praised the writing, joking, “Good scripts are like beacons of light through the garbage.” Caplan revealed that she knew little about the real-life Masters and Johnson but that after reading the script it was a “no-brainer” to audition. Annaleigh Ashford, too, knew from the moment she familiarized herself with Betty in the pilot that she couldn’t turn down to the role.

7. Growing up in the ’50s

Beau Bridges was a teenager in the ’50s and remembered hearing about the real-life sex researchers. “Us guys, we kind of thought we were driving the bus, but then Masters and Johnson came along and revealed it’s actually a woman.” He called the research findings a “rude awakening” that helped to liberate women. Also worth noting: Bridges initially thought his character would be a womanizer. “As the provost of the college, I thought I would be getting it on with all these college girls.” He later found out from Showtime executives that he would be playing a gay man, which was “a new area for him to jump in” as an actor.

The second season of Masters of Sex premieres July 13 on Showtime.


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Casting Update: Sarah Silverman joins Masters Of Sex

Showtime’s Masters of Sex is adding comedic talent.

Emmy-winning comedian and actress Sarah Silverman has joined the second season of the drama from Michelle Ashford, the premium cable network announced Monday.

Based on the true story of real-life pioneers of human sexuality William Masters (played by Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), the hourlong 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. The show chronicles their journey from doing research in a Missouri hospital to appearing on the cover of Time magazine.

Silverman will recur as Helen, Betty’s (Annaleigh Ashford) former lesbian lover. The character is described as a palm reader who believes she’s a psychic, who is still pining for Betty. She joins a cast that also includes Caitlin FitzGerald, Teddy Sears, Helene Yorke, Beau Bridges and Allison Janney.

Silverman will soon be seen in Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming feature A Million Ways to Die in the West and the drama I Smile Back. Other film credits include Wreck-It Ralph, Take This Waltz and Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic. She also made the New York Times best-seller list with her book, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee. She recently was attached to star in HBO’s comedy pilot People in New Jersey. That comedy did not move forward.

Silverman joins Akeelah and the Bee’s Keke Palmer and Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt, who both recently booked recurring roles on Masters’ second season that is set to premiere Sunday, July 13.


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THR: Masters Of Sex PaleyFest Panel Highlights

There wasn’t much to dish on season two of Showtime drama Masters of Sex, considering production began just a week ago. But the cast and executive producers at the PaleyFest panel Monday night had plenty to say about last season, including why staying true to a period piece means wearing the proper undergarment, even for a non-sex scene.

Lizzy Caplan mentioned that on set Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt, newly added for season two, asked her how the women handle going to the bathroom wearing such undergarments: “A couple days ago, she said, ‘How do you do this?!’ ”

Michael Sheen joined Caplan on the panel, along with co-stars Caitlin Fitzgerald, Teddy Sears, and Annaleigh Ashford and EPs Michelle Ashford and Sarah Timberman, who said they came directly to the Dolby Theater from shooting a season two scene. They were watching a scene between Beau Bridges and Allison Janney; Timberman said, “We were both weeping and weeping,” giving a nod to the actors’ well-received scenes in the first season.

Below are some of the other highlights from the panel, as the cast recalled their favorite moments, auditions and all those sex scenes:

1. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan disagree on audiences’ smarts

When Caplan was cast for the part of Virginia Johnson, she was filming the comedy Hot Tub Time Machine and mentioned it was one of the many reasons she took the role — “proving to myself I could do more than one thing,” she said. Upon the wild applause the comedy received from the audience, Sheen jokingly condemned the theater. Caplan later praised the show’s feminist story, adding, “It’s so refreshing and proves how smart audiences are to demand more. Hear that, Michael?”

2. Annaleigh Ashford auditioned as a buttoned-up secretary and came out a hooker

The actress talked about how she wore a pink button-up shirt and read for the part of Jane (played by Helene York) but was called back to read the part of the rambunctious brothel worker Betty, as she unbuttoned her shirt as far as she could and put on her now signature accent. The EPs agreed it suited her better. “It was all wrong. But she makes such a good hooker,” Michelle Ashford said, to laughter.

3. Showtime gave one sex note

Timberman mentioned how “completely in-step” Showtime and Sony have been for them, but that they did receive one note: “There’s too much sex in this episode.”

4. Location, location, location

The Sony studio parking lot and an entrance to one building are used as the hospital entrance and parking lot in the show. Many of the interior hospital scenes were shot in an abandoned tuberculosis hospital from the ’30s. “It looked like a Stephen King nightmare,” Michelle Ashford said. “It was sexy!” Annaleigh Ashford joked.

5. Teddy Sears’ sex audition tape

As the actor talked about how it was performing his audition for the show, in which he had to read a sex scene, Sheen jokingly added that they had the tape to show everyone at the theater.

6. There’s an emphasis on “the more complicated choice”

Sheen brought up the idea of how the show always goes for the more complicated choice, and that theme of discussion ran through the evening. Caplan mentioned how, even amid a love triangle, neither woman played by Caplan and Fitzgerald is portrayed as a “villain” or as the “doormat.” This three-way relationship, Michelle Ashford added, lasted an entire 10 years in the real-life story of Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson.


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Casting Update: Keke Palmer, Betsy Brandt & Danny Huston Joins Masters Of Sex

Keke Palmer, Betsy Brandt & Danny Huston are the latest to recur in Masters Of Sex Season 2. More details below:

Showtime’s Masters of Sex is adding another player.

Keke Palmer has joined in a recurring capacity on the second season, the pay cabler announced Wednesday. She will play Coral, a nanny hired by the Masters to care for their new baby.


Showtime’s Masters of Sex has enlisted a Breaking Bad favorite.

Betsy Brandt has boarded the second season of the Showtime drama, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

PHOTOS: THR’s Cover Shoot With the Stars of Showtime

Brandt will recur and play Barbara, new secretary to Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen). She fills the role previously held by Margo Martindale’s Miss Horchow, who guest-starred in the series premiere, and Caitlin Fitzgerald’s Libby, who temporarily filled in as his secretary in season one.


Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” has cast “American Horror Story” star Danny Huston for Season 2 as Dr. Douglas Greathouse, the privileged head of a hospital’s Obstetrics Department.

It will be a recurring role for Huston, who also appeared in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” He was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2013 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role in “Magic City.”


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Lizzy Caplan & Nick Kroll Toast L.A. Public Libraries at Charity Event

Saturday night brought some big names to Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City to celebrate the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ Sixth Annual Toast in support of the Los Angeles public library system.

Famed artist Shepard Fairey played DJ while stars like Lizzy Caplan, Nick Kroll, Amanda Peet, Jason Reitman, Topher Grace, Colin Hanks, Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton-Duplass mingled under twinkling lights before the night’s program began.

Moby kicked things off with a crowd sing-along, warning those not joining in that “not singing along results in impotence and sterility.” Cougar Town’s Busy Philipps played host of the evening as several of the celebrities in attendance were invited onstage to read from their favorite LA-themed works of literature.

Kroll read deadpan from Joe Loya’s The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell, joking that he had only just learned to read for this night. Next Aaron D. Spears of Being Mary Jane bellowed out an essay by Wanda Coleman that had the crowd cheering before he even finished. Caplan took the stage with a copy of John Fante’s Ask the Dust, admitting, “I used to carry this book around in high school because I thought it made me seem cool and interesting and slightly dark. Based on my walk up here from my chair I think it still works.”

Reitman followed her with a reading from Raymond Chandler’s Red Wind, noting the irony of “a kid from Beverly Hills” reading the blue-collar detective story. Finally comedian Tig Notaro went onstage to deliver off-the-wall critiques of everyone’s reading choices from the website Goodreads.

“My only memory of libraries was hanging out in there to try to skip school,” she prefaced. “I’ve read one book: Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. I did a book report on it every year.”

A closing musical performance by Jenny Lewis’ band Jenny and Johnny capped off the night, which Fairey summed up in his champagne toast like this: “Here’s to the libraries of Los Angeles and to doing good things for the people.”


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A.V. Club Article on Pulp Fiction Live Reading

Today in awesome things that you missed and are now gone forever: In 2011, director Jason Reitman started a live read series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), in which well-known actors do a table reading of a beloved film for a live audience. Past entries have included classics like The Apartment, The Breakfast Club, The Princess Bride, Ghostbusters, and The Big Lebowski. The films are not known in advance to the audience, so 600 lucky ticket holders got a pleasant surprise this past Thursday when a star-studded cast was on hand to read Pulp Fiction.

Jordan Peele and Joseph Gordon-Levitt played hit men Jules and Vincent, respectively, and they came dressed for the part. Lizzy Caplan read for Mia Wallace (and got up to dance with Gordon-Levitt for the twist contest scene). Wendell Pierce played gangster Marcellus Wallace. And, in the unlikeliest pairing, Jonah Hill filled Bruce Willis’ shoes as prizefighter Butch.

The rest of the cast played multiple smaller roles, with Seth Rogen playing drug dealer Lance, redneck shopkeeper Maynard, and over-caffeinated homeowner Jimmy. Michael Chiklis got to show off the most range, playing the timid, big-brained Brett and cool customer The Wolf, and he also got to deliver the “gold watch” monologue made famous by Christopher Walken. Rebecca Romijn showed off two different accents as cabbie Esmerelda and Butch’s French girlfriend Fabienne. And Nick Kroll played more or less the rest of the minor characters, including Marvin, Zed, Jackrabbit Slim’s Ed Sullivan-impersonating host, and even the Gimp.