Showtime Picks Up Masters and Johnson Series

LOS ANGELES — Showtime has picked up the series “Masters of Sex,” writer/ producer Michelle Ashford’s new drama about pioneering sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, played by Michael Sheen ("Underworld")  and Lizzy Caplan ("Party Down").

Showtime has ordered 12 episodes of the Sony Pictures Television production, which is an adaptation of author Thomas Maier’s “Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How To Love.”

Masters and Johnson, who founded their eponymously named research institute in 1964, revolutionized the field of human sexuality by observing and documenting in a laboratory the psychological and physiological responses people exhibited during sexual intercourse and masturbation.

Their findings were published in the best selling texts “Human Sexual Response” and “Human Sexual Inadequacy.”

“Masters of Sex” is slated to premiere in 2013. The pilot episode is directed by John Madden and costars Caitlin Fitzgerald (“It’s Complicated”), Nicholas D’Agosto (“Final Destination 5”), Teddy Sears (“American Horror Story”), Margo Martindale (“Justified”) and Beau Bridges ("Descendants").