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Head Case aired from April 2007 until May 2009 on Starz.
Meet Therapist Dr Elizabeth Goode ( Alexandra Wentworth). She was Brash, unconventional, judgmental, but undeniably thriving as the "it" therapist to Hollywood's maladjusted elite. On a daily basis Dr Goode dished her own unique methodology to a waiting room filled with a who's who from the world of entertainment, sports and music
A Review from The New York Times
TV Review | 'Head Case'
Declining Stars, in to Have Their Heads Shrunk
By GINIA BELLAFANTE
Published: April 18, 2007
Head Case is a new comedy with a relatively languorous pace and no laugh track the kind of show that, like Larry David's or Ricky Gervais's, wants to remind you what a fount of abasement daily existence actually is. It stars Alexandra Wentworth, the actress and comedian (and wife of George Stephanopoulos), who also writes for the show. And it revolves around a therapist's office in Los Angeles, a premise fairly easy to imagine taking off in as many predictable directions as there are routes to the Staples Center.
But Head Case, which begins tonight on Starz, is pretty funny even as it travels some obvious roads. Ms. Wentworth plays Dr. Elizabeth Goode, a therapist who possesses neither sympathy nor understanding, insisting instead on bamboozling her patients into believing that they have issues they actually don't. Ms. Wentworth works against her own potentially winsome appearance to look hard and vaguely deranged. She shares an office with a fellow clinician, Dr. Myron Finkelstein (Steve Landesberg), with whom she refuses to share her Diptyque candles in the waiting room. A giant art photograph of a screaming toddler hangs behind her receptionist's desk.
Part of the idea here is that Finkelstein finds himself constantly in a jealous rage because he gets to see only losers aging nutcases who can't speak English and very small children while Goode sees famous losers. She is the it shrink for the known but barely employed. The patients (and this is where things become a bit too easy) are celebrities playing themselves, not Kate Winslet-level celebrities, but the fallen ones who might seem unfamiliar even to viewers of reality TV.
Jason Priestley is among those, reduced in stature, who show up. He goes to see Goode to talk about his relatively happy marriage. But when he does, she responds by asking if he is gay, because that's the idea she got watching Beverly Hills 90210.
How does it feel, she says, prompted by nothing, to be perceived as a homosexual? Taking the inquiry further, she has him dress up in women's clothes just to see what it would feel like.
The best moment in the first few episodes comes during an exchange with Ione Skye, who talks to Goode about her repeated dreams about a rabbi, especially one in which the rabbi refuses her entry into a sale at Fred Segal, the West Hollywood clothing store favored by the industry's actively successful. Fred Segal is a Jewish man, right? Is he Daddy, maybe? Goode asks. And why do you think he chained the store? To this Ms. Skye deadpans, I think, I feel, I don't deserve, even, you know, things on sale.
Ms. Skye, who most recently appeared in a tiny role in the film Zodiac, looks beautiful. Head Case reminds us that while celebrities whose fortunes have dwindled seem to have an endless capacity to make fun of themselves, their circumstances are still generally enviable, or at least a lot more enviable than those of a laid-off Citigroup worker.
If Head Case feels somehow less than what it ought to be, it is because Ms. Wentworth, unlike comedians trafficking in a similar vein, refuses to jump into the humiliation pool she keeps filling. She has built a show a lot more self-serving than, for instance, Extras, on which Mr. Gervais seems as eager to embrace his abjection as a runner is to win a race. Ms. Wentworth is not above her celebrity guests; they are her mirror.
Starz, tonight at 11, Eastern and Pacific times; 10, Central.
Directed by Jason Farrand. A co-production of Starz Entertainment and UNCLE Film + Television. Robert Bauer, Eric Bonniot, Alexandra Wentworth and Mr. Farrand, executive producers for UNCLE. Stephan Shelanski, Michael Ruggiero and Robert Markovich, executive producers for Starz Entertainment.
WITH: Ms. Wentworth (Dr. Elizabeth Goode); Steve Landesberg (Dr. Myron Finkelstein) and Michelle Arthur (Lola Buckingham).
An Article from USA TODAY
In Starz's 'Head Case,' it takes one to know one
Posted 3/19/2009 7:35 PM
By Gary Strauss, USA TODAY
One of TV's craziest psychiatrists returns Friday in a new season of Starz Channel's appropriately titled comedy Head Case (10 ET/PT).
Case stars improv comedian and impressionist Ali Wentworth as Dr. Elizabeth Goode, a self-absorbed, $450-an-hour therapist whose own issues run far deeper than those of the narcissistic celebs she treats in Beverly Hills.
Unscripted episodes feature Goode violating an assortment of ethical canons, testing the boundaries of patient-client relations and subverting graciousness and good manners. "Patients" with faux issues include Macy Gray, Jerry Seinfeld, Janeane Garofalo, James Denton, Paulina Porizkova, Kevin Nealon, designer Isaac Mizrahi and magician Lance Burton.
Wentworth came up with the concept for Case after spotting a picture of rocker Marilyn Manson several years ago.
"Here's this suburban kid in all this makeup. Clearly, it's an act. But I wondered if he was in therapy. I thought if you mixed that with celebrities, it was an interesting combination," says Wentworth, 44.
Starz eventually picked up on the concept as it branched into original programming. The cable channel kicked off Head Case as a series of 10-minute vignettes in 2007, and they evolved into 30-minute episodes last year.
Wentworth's personal experiences in therapy provided additional comedic fodder. Shortly after college, Wentworth says she thought she had reached a breakthrough moment with one therapist. Poised for intelligent insight, Wentworth instead was asked where she had bought her shoes. A second therapist jettisoned after one session told her she would probably have recurring sexual dreams about her. A third suggested she purchase a stuffed animal so Wentworth would have it to talk to about relationships.
Wentworth, who shot most of the episodes in Los Angeles and New York, lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, ABC's Sunday news-talk host and former Clinton administration confidant George Stephanopoulos, and their two daughters. "He could say this is a carbon copy of my life. If (Goode) is me, it's my neurosis 1,000 times magnified," she says. "But I'd like to think I'm playing a character."
Viewers will get a broader look this season at Goode and co-star Steve Landesberg's Myron Finkelstein, her patient-poaching, prescription-dispensing practice partner. Tonight's premiere opens with Goode being fitted for a wedding dress as singer Gray discusses her "sexual obsession" with Barack Obama.
Goode will eventual marry her philandering fiance, who splits eight hours after their ceremony, where he meets someone else, and leaves her with herpes. The over-the-top story line eventually leads her to a Playboy Mansion house call with Hugh Hefner, who spurns the disheveled, out-of-control Goode's efforts to get into his magazine.
"When I bring (Goode's) psychosis in, it's fun to watch," Wentworth says.
Starz programming chief Stephan Shelanski was enamored with the show's concept after watching a five-minute pilot. The show, which resembles in tone and humor HBO's Curb YourEnthusiasm, has a cultlike Hollywood following, he says. "Curb paved the way, but Head Case pushes the boundaries."
An Article from The New York Times
She'll Interpret, or Become, a Nightmare
By JACQUES STEINBERG
Published: March 4, 2009
ALEXANDRA WENTWORTH, an actress especially recognizable for her supporting roles in the sketch comedy show In Living Color and the movie Office Space, was standing in a supermarket checkout line a few years ago when a tabloid cover with Marilyn Manson caught her eye.
I was thinking, God, how do you go from being your typical suburban kid to that? Ms. Wentworth said recently of that singer's painted-white face and black-circled eyes. And then I remember thinking, I wonder if Marilyn Manson's in therapy? Then I thought, I wonder what his therapist is like? Then I thought, I wonder if every celebrity is in therapy?
Soon those idle thoughts along with Ms. Wentworth's background in improvisational comedy and her own experiences in therapy would coalesce into a series, Head Case, which she helped create. It has its second-season premiere on March 20 on Starz, the premium cable channel. With Ms. Wentworth playing Dr. Elizabeth Goode, a psychologist as self-centered and repressed as many of her patients, Head Case plumbs the question of what it would be like to eavesdrop on celebrities psychotherapy sessions.
It then tries to posit an answer, though always an absurdist one, as a cavalcade of guest stars Jeff Goldblum, Janeane Garofalo and David Alan Grier in the first season, Jerry Seinfeld and Macy Gray in the one forthcoming play fictionalized versions of themselves as they recount their supposed neuroses to Dr. Goode. The sessions are not scripted, except for a few words of guidance from the director, and one of the guilty pleasures of watching is to see how the patients react when Dr. Goode inevitably and suddenly interrupts them perhaps to welcome a floor repairman, a wedding-dress fitter or, periodically, her fianc .
I would say she's a bouillabaisse of a few terrible therapists I've seen, Ms. Wentworth, 44, said over lunch the other day in the cafe at Barneys, the East Side retail emporium where Dr. Goode might shop. I had one who was a very unattractive homunculus of a woman who told me not to be scared, but that I would probably have recurring sexual dreams about her.
One challenge that Ms. Wentworth has faced is ensuring that viewers actually see the show. It was originally made as a pilot for VH1, where it would have had a rock-star focus, but that music channel chose not to pick up the series.
But when excerpts of the pilot landed at the Denver offices of Starz, Head Case found an immediately receptive audience.
The funniest moment in the pilot, said Stephan Shelanski, executive vice president of programming for Starz, was when she had Jonathan Silverman on the couch. She asked him a very crucial question about his upbringing. He was about to answer. Then she says something like, Hold that thought and excused herself to go the bathroom.
Her timing was so perfect, Mr. Shelanski said. So much so that he hopped a plane to Los Angeles the morning after first watching that footage, to meet with Robert Bauer and Jason Farrand, who would become the show's executive producers, en route to making a deal.
On Starz, a movie channel available in 18 million homes that only recently began commissioning original programming, the series barely drew 100,000 viewers for the initial run of each of its 10 episodes last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. Still, it has something of a cult following, in Hollywood in particular. And it has focused new attention on Ms. Wentworth, whose regular television acting work had seemed to have been behind her. In addition to In Living Color, on which she appeared for three seasons ending in 1994, she made what she estimates to be more than 100 appearances on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno as a guest and in skits.
At least partly because of Head Case and her work as a part-time panelist on The Oprah Winfrey Show, she was recently cast in a forthcoming feature film, to be directed by Nancy Meyers. She will play the best friend of Meryl Streep's character in a ensemble that also includes Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.
I have nothing to complain about, said Ms. Wentworth, who lives not in Los Angeles but in Washington, with her husband, the political talk-show host George Stephanopoulos, and their two young daughters. I'm sure I'll get hit by a car tomorrow.
Head Case drew particular attention last season for its fifth episode. It featured the actor Greg Grunberg, who plays the good-guy cop on the NBC drama Heroes. Mr. Grunberg, ostensibly playing himself, a married father of three, is seen sitting on a couch across from Dr. Goode as he calmly relates a series of increasingly lewd fantasies he has been having about her.
After describing one that he calls the glass-bottom boat, which would require her to dance suggestively for him within range of a coffee table wearing scant clothing, and in a pantomime of the opening of Ellen DeGeneres's talk show an incredulous Dr. Goode says, Here's the thing: we are never going to do any of that.
A dejected Mr. Grunberg replies, Any of it?
Mr. Grunberg's agent and manager liked the scene so much that they sent producers and studios a link to a YouTube video of it, as evidence that his range extended beyond Heroes and, before that, the coming-of-age series Felicity.
It just shows I can handle a comedic situation and be real, said Mr. Grunberg, who had advised the producers of Head Case that he intended to hit on Dr. Goode. (Ms. Wentworth, as is the show's custom, was not told anything in advance.)
In the first episode of the forthcoming season Ms. Gray, the singer, berates herself for not moving to Chicago years ago. Had she done so, she says, she would probably be first lady. He's so fine, Ms. Gray says of President Obama, before adding, angrily, Why am I not Michelle?
The show also features Steve Landesberg as Dr. Myron Finklelstein, Dr. Goode's Freudian officemate, and Michelle Arthur as their scattered assistant.
Though the sexual situations and undertones of Head Case would seem to make someone of Ms. Wentworth's pedigree blush she is a former debutante whose mother, Muffie Brandon Cabot, was the social secretary to Nancy Reagan she has delighted in playing against type.
When she auditioned for In Living Color, she said, its star, Keenen Ivory Wayans, was looking for a black guy to round out its mostly black cast. She won the role in part by donning a miniskirt and halter top and convincing Mr. Wayans that she was white trash.
I didn't want any of them to know anything about me, she said. They found out a year and a half after they hired me on the show and were like, What? I said, Come on, you wouldn't have hired little Suzy White Teeth.
Ms. Wentworth's wish list of future guests for Head Case includes Courtney Love, Jamie Foxx (another alumnus of In Living Color ) and, of course, Mr. Manson. But one potential guest ruled himself out even before Ms. Wentworth could ask.
Reached at his Washington office on a recent afternoon Mr. Stephanopoulos pronounced himself the show's biggest fan. But when asked if he would ever consider appearing on Dr. Goode's couch, he added, I'd rather cut off my pinkie.
An Article from The New York Daily News
'Head Case' therapist Alexandra Wentworth faces a dose of reality on Starz series
By Cristina Kinon
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, April 30th 2009, 12:26 AM
"Head Case" writer and star Alexandra Wentworth says she wanted to push the show's boundaries this season.
To do that, some of the action on the Starz series had to move off the therapist's couch and into the real world.
"That's why my character got married and got herpes this season," Wentworth deadpans to the Daily News.
"Head Case," airing Fridays at 10, stars Wentworth as Dr. Elizabeth Goode, a $450-an-hour Hollywood therapist whose own issues are far worse than those of her self-absorbed clientele.
This season's list of those seeking Goode's counseling include - as themselves - Jerry Seinfeld, James Denton, Jerry Stiller, Hugh Hefner, Isaac Mizrahi, Mario Batali and others.
"I didn't want to be so actor-concentrated this season. I wanted to open celebrity-dom a little bit," Wentworth says. "Instead of just talking about Hollywood, now I get to play with all different psychoses," including Mizrahi's style block and Batali's issue with meats and sex.
Tonight, the network rolls out the red carpet for Wentworth and the show's celeb guests and fans, with a special screening at MoMA of two new episodes of "Head Case." Tomorrow, Starz airs an episode starring Sandra Bernhard, Kevin Nealon and Batali in which Goode touches down in New York and runs into a former patient and ex-flame.
Many of the celebrities on "Head Case" are known as comedians, but it's the more serious A-listers who have delivered some of the show's unexpected laughs.
Wentworth says Playboy's Hefner was one of them this season. "He said he had a fear of rabbits, which he came up with himself," says Wentworth.
"You don't really want big movie stars on the show because they're so guarded - same for political figures - and our show is like a publicist's nightmare," she says. "But there is a part of me that wants Courtney Love to come on because she's so unpredictable. I want more rock stars."
To watch some clips from Head Case go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=head+case+starz
For more on Head Case go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_Case
To listen to the theme song of Head Case go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Head_Case.html
� Date: Thu September 3, 2009 � Filesize: 45.4kb, 87.3kb � Dimensions: 800 x 600 �
Keywords: Head Case