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Casting Update: Artemis Pebdani Joins Masters Of Sex

Masters of Sex continues to add supporting cast for season two.

Showtime’s period drama starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan has tapped It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Artemis Pebdani in a recurring role, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Pebdani will appear in multiple episodes on the hourlong drama’s upcoming season as Flo, Virginia Johnson’s (Caplan) new boss.

The actress’ credits include a recurring stint as Artemis on It’s Always Sunny, as well as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Modern Family, House and How I Met Your Mother. She appears in IFC’s upcoming Garfunkel and Oates and recently developed an FX pilot with Sunny co-star Mary Elizabeth Ellis.

Pebdani joins a cast that includes new additions Sarah Silverman, Keke Palmer, Courtney B. Vance, Betsy Brandt, Christian Borle and Rene Auberjonois.

Pebdani is repped by Odenkirk Provissiero and attorney P.J. Shapiro.


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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.