The orders reflect the pay cabler’s intent to increase the volume of original series on its air — a key goal for entertainment prexy David Nevins since he arrived at Showtime two years ago. But until he saw the finished product, there was no assurance that both drama pilots shot this year would be strong enough to warrant pickups.
Both series have been given 12 additional episode orders and both will lense in L.A. They’re targeted to premiere next year. Nevins didn’t get specific on scheduling plans but noted “that we’re in that great place where we have a lot of young successes in first- and second-year shows,” citing “Shameless,” “Homeland” and “House of Lies.” “We feel like we’re replacing our older shows at the right clip. It’s a sign of health,” he added.
“Ray Donovan” stars Liev Schreiber as a professional Hollywood fixer with a troubled past in Boston. Ann Biderman (“Southland”) created the series and exec produces with Mark Gordon and Bryan Zuriff. Other cast members include Jon Voight, Elliot Gould, Eddie Marson, Dash Mihok and Paula Malcomson. Allen Coulter helmed the pilot.
Nevins called it a “really interesting look at contemporary Los Angeles with a big expansive cast.”
Sony Pictures TV’s “Masters of Sex” is a look at the lives of famed sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, played by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. Michelle Ashford penned the pilot, adapted from Thomas Maier’s book “Masters of Sex,” and exec produces with Carl Beverly, Sarah Timberman and Judith Verno. John Madden helmed the pilot.
The series is set in the early 1960s, as the pair are on the cusp of becoming pop culture celebs. “It’s a show that has enormous contemporary relevance as a study of human sexuality and the really unique relationship (between Masters and Johnson) that is unlike any other seen before on TV,” Nevins said.
“Both (‘Donovan’ and ‘Sex’) feel in keeping with the shows we have but also feel pretty unique,” he added. “They come from two great writers in Ann Biderman and Michelle Ashford. They are two of the most well-regarded writers in Hollywood, but they haven’t quite had their moment to shine. With these shows they’re going to shine.”
Another project that Showtime piloted this year, a comedy from scribe Andrew Gurland, does not appear to be moving forward.