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The Showtime series, "Ray Donovan" became a record-breaking success for the cable network when it received the highest number of viewers in the history of the network. "Ray Donovan" was created by Ann Biderman wh had earlier created a number of police procedurals and won an Emmy for her writing of an episode of "NYPD Blue."
The show tells the story of the son of an Irish-American gangster who works in Hollywood as a fixer for the Californian elite. "Ray Donovan" works for the prestigious Goldman and Drexler law firm for whom he fixes the problems their clients face outside the traditional reaches of legal experts. The pilot, "The Bag or the Bat" opens with the legendary gangster, Mickey Donovan being released from prison on the East Coast. He is immediately picked up by a car and driven to a church where he murders a priest and leaves the church quickly.
On the West Coast, Ray is dispatched by his boss, Lee Drexler to a hotel room where the Holywood star, Deonte Fraser has awoken from a night of partying to find a woman dead in his bed. Ray leaves his partner, Avi to clean up the problem as he has been called to another case involving another high profile client. Tommy Wheeler has been hiding his homosexuality from his fans for a long time and is being haunted by reports of picking up a mysterious prostitute. Ray arrives and finds Tommy in an unhappy state believing his career will be over if he is found to have picked up a transvestite prostitute. The fixer acts quickly and takes Tommy to the scene of the death of the woman in the company of Deonte and replaces him with Tommy. News of the death is reported to the media with Tommy described as having spent the night with the woman to ease the pressure on the rumors over his sexuality.
In the meantime, Ray finds himself facing a number of family problems, including rumors he has cheated on his wife, Abby. ray also hears of the unexpected release of his father, Mickey from jail and his imminent arrival in California. The news does not go down well with Ray or his brothers, boxers Terry and Bunchy with Bunchy relapsing to using drugs and alcohol because of the trauma he is feeling over his father's arrival. Bunchy also reveals he and all the children in the Donovan family, including their dead sister, Bridget were molested by a priest during their childhood.
Mickey finally arrives in California to be warned by ray to stay away from the family as they have built their lives in Los Angeles without his help. Mickey informs the three brothers that he has killed the priest who molested them to enact his own form of revenge. Ray remains unmoved and warns Mickey to stay away from his family or he will kill him, a warning Mickey seems intent on ignoring.
Liev Schreiber plays the role of the titular character, "Ray Donovan" in the Showtime series and has found his highest level of recognition among fans and critics alike. Schreiber was nominated for five Golden Globe awards and three Primetime Emmy's for his work on the series which came after a long and distinguished film career. Schreiber has consistently worked on the Broadway stage to combine his film work which includes the "Scream" trilogy and the reboot of "The Omen" franchise.
The TV. film, and stage actor, Eddie Marsan brings his impressive resume as a character performer to "Ray Donovan." Marsan began his career acting in many small parts on British TV in the early-1990s and eventually found fame for his award-winning role in the Mike Leigh movie, "Happy Go Lucky." Marsan has been a consistent performer in various movies and TV shows which have won critical acclaim, including the movie, "Vera Drake" and the BBC-Netflix co-production, "River" alongside Stellan Skarsgard.
Respected TV and movie writer, Ann Biderman created "Ray Donovan" for Showtime and has overseen the show since its pilot to the completion of the sixth season in 2019. Biderman has been involved in a number of impressive films and TV shows including the successful adaptation of "Smilia's Feeling for Snow" in 1997. Biderman began her TV writing career with "NYPD Blue" and write numerous episodes of "Ray Donovan" and "Southland" during their first seasons.
"Ray Donovan" was created for the Showtime network and is a co-production of The Mark Gordon Company and Ann Biderman Co. Biderman teamed with veteran TV and movie director, Allen Coulter to create the first two episodes of "Ray Donovan" with the director helming both opening episodes of the show. Coulter directed Oscar-winner Adrien Brody in "Hollywoodland" and has directed episodes of respected shows such as "The Sopranos" and "Rome."
Critics have been generally kind to "Ray Donovan" with the first season given a 77 percent fresh rating by Rotten Tomatoes as an excellent introduction to the characters and story of the Donovan family. The first three seasons all received positive reviews with Rotten Tomatoes giving the show's first three seasons similar ratings. The fourth season is agreed to have seen a drop in quality before season five received a 100 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Professional critics have praised the cast for their work on the show which they claim has elevated the story above the confines of the location and plot. Both Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight as Mickey have been praised for their excellent performances on the show.
Showtime took an unusual marketing strategy for the launch of the premiere of "Ray Donovan" in 2013 when the premiere episode was uploaded to YouTube a few days before its broadcast premiere. Liev Schreiber was said to have been drawn to the character of "Ray Donovan" because of the darker aspects of the violent character. Eddie Marsan credits a London bookmaker with his acting success, at the age of 16 he met the bookie Leslie Bennett who paid for his first year of tuition to learn the art of dramatic acting.