Mastering The Golden Age Of Cable TV

By Carl Corry


  Tom Maier of East Northport, right, is an investigative reporter and author of “Masters of Sex,” the book on which the popular Showtime series of the same name is based.

Tom Maier of East Northport, right, is an investigative reporter and author of “Masters of Sex,” the book on which the popular Showtime series of the same name is based.

Follow him on social media and you can see that Thomas Maier is having the time of his life.

In August, he and his wife Joyce spent time on the set of “Masters of Sex,” the Showtime series now in its third season that’s based on Maier’s well-regarded book of the same name.

Maier, 59, of East Northport, shared photos of himself with the show’s stars, including Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, who play Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the couple that literally wrote the book on sex with their ground-breaking work, “Human Sexual Response.”

He’s been to red-carpet events and has done loads of interviews with national media outlets. On Aug. 20, he was the featured speaker in front of a home crowd at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, where he used to go as a kid to watch movies.

“It’s a new experience for me because I’ve spent more than 30 years of my life as a newspaper investigative reporter,” said Maier, who has worked at Newsday since 1984. “It’s fun, because not only my wife, but my three sons, who are now in their 20s, can share in it. The overall experience has been lots of fun and it’s kind of opened the door for even more opportunities in the realm of television.”

“It’s interesting to realize that we live in the age of television. Particularly, they call it the Golden Age of cable television. So to have a book to become that’s a hit TV show means a lot more just in general for most folks than to have a front page in the newspaper or to have a book that’s well reviewed,” he said.

In addition to “Masters of Sex,” for which he is a consultant, Maier has several other TV projects in the pipeline.

“Once ‘Masters’ came out and was a hit on Showtime, the people at Sony said to me, ‘Well, what other books have you written?’”

That led to Sony purchasing the TV rights of Maier’s first book, “Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power and Glory of America's Richest Media Empire and the Secretive Man Behind It,” which is about Sy Newhouse, the owner of the Conde Nast media empire. Maier wrote a pilot treatment focusing on how two media icons, Tina Brown and Anna Wintour, vied for power in the publishing industry at the end of the 20th century. It’s now being developed for a mini-series by Bravo with the same executive producer of the acclaimed show, “The Walking Dead,” Gale Anne Hurd.

Sony also bought the rights to his latest book, “When Lions Roar: the Churchills and the Kennedys,” a history of the relationship between the two families.

“Suddenly, my world is getting much bigger,” Maier said.

 This all comes following years of hard work by Maier, who sticks to a steady writing regimen to complete his detailed accounts of some of modern history’s most influential figures: He gets up early each morning in the house he bought from his aunt June in 1985, which is about a mile from his parents’ house where he grew up, to write for a few hours before heading to work. Then, after dinner, he writes often late into the night.

A graduate of St. Anthony’s High School in 1974, back when the school was in Smithtown, Maier went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from Fordham University and then a master’s degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He spent two years at the Chicago Sun-Times before leaving when Rupert Murdoch bought the paper in 1984 -- landing back at his hometown paper, where he had gotten his first job as a paperboy in 1968.

These days, Maier works on major investigative projects alongside colleagues at News 12 Long Island (both Newsday and News 12 are owned by Cablevision). They’ve done seven multi-part, multimedia projects in the past six years, including a recent one on the business of tutoring. 

With a fourth season just announced, Maier said he hopes it will last for six years to tell the full story of Masters and Johnson.

Meanwhile, he’s working on even more TV projects. What will they be about? Too soon to divulge, unfortunately, Maier said.

Stay tuned.