Today at the TCA Convention, live from the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles: Starz's original comedy, Head Case.
Head Case stars Alexandra Wentworth as Dr. Elizabeth Goode, a messed-up therapist (is there any other kind?) with a specialty in working with celebrities.
As a result, the show is jam-packed with guest-star appearances from big-name stars, who have to, as the show's producers Robert Bauer and Jason Farrand explain, to leave all their defenses and preconceptions at the stage door. "Patients" arrive on set with no idea of what the discussion is to come, and the show is completely unscripted, with Wentworth leading the celebs through fake therapy sessions in which anything goes. "I don't know if it's because it's therapy and it's unscripted," Wentworth explains, "but they just let it all out and we use it to our advantage."
The result is completely unpredictable, always hilarious and quite often naughty. This season, for example, Jerry Seinfeld casts off his squeaky-clean image to talk much more risque with Dr. Goode. "Jerry was excited to do something unscripted," Wentworth theorizes, "because his standup is very scripted. I think he felt very liberated." And the results, Farrand says, "were risque enough to make his wife Jessica Seinfeld laugh her socks off, and almost ruin the take. We had to tell her to be quiet."
With hours of film in the can from celebs, the Head Case team edits down the footage to create storylines. "We go as far and as deep as Ali takes the session or the celebrity goes," Bauer says. "Invariably they open up to a lot of stuff that I don't think they front loaded with." Farrand explains that the celebs are given the security blanket of knowing they can call "cut" at any time. But for the most part, that doesn't happen, and most material, no matter how outrageous, is usable. Except for some of the content of the "session" with singer Macy Gray. "She talked a lot about how she wanted to 'bed,' and I'm being PG, Barack Obama," Wentworth remembers. "So we reedited it and it's still very funny, but she's not being disrespectful."
This year, besides Gray, celebrity patients will include Geri Halliwell, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and actors James Denton and Kevin Rahm, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Andy Dick, Greg Grunberg, Hugh Hefner, Kevin Nealon, Jeff Probst, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott, Melina Kanakaredes, Tate Donovan, Janeane Garofalo, Paulina Porizkova, Sandra Bernhard, Tiffani Thiessen, Craig Bierko, Jennifer Finnigan and Jonathan Silverman, Illeana Douglas, Las Vegas magician Lance Burton, and WWE star Dave Batista.
The show is branching out this season, Wentworth explains, to non-actor celebs, like designer Isaac Mizrahi and Mario Batali. Wentworth would like to get some sports stars and even some politicians in there too, she says. And so, one journalist asked, does that include her celeb politico husband, George Stephanopoulos? While hubby George is a fan of the show, Wentworth answered, an appearance at this point is probably unlikely. "I'm talking about Senator Craig -- people who have nothing to lose."
Debuts Friday March 20, 2009
10 PM ET