by: S. Scott Stanikmas
The upcoming Showtime comedy Happyish has had a tough way of things. Originally starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was going to make his TV debut, the show shot a pilot and was all set to get picked up. The show was set to be a black comedy that showed how our pursuit of happiness may actually be what’s getting in the way of our being happy.
Then came the untimely death of Hoffman and all bets were off.
Showtime didn’t let that slow them down. They had only shot the pilot and were in the stages of writing when Hoffman passed, so the first step was to re-cast the role PSH played, that of Thom Payne, a middle-aged exec whose life seems to be spiraling out of his control. British actor Steve Coogan slid easily into that role. With Coogan now cast, the show would go back to pilot stage and have to earn its spot all over again.
It wasn’t known who, if anyone, from the original pilot would be called up again. But then word got out that Kathryn Hahn would reprise her role as Lee, Thom’s wife. Lee sees the good in the world and has hopes that it can change but feels frustrated because we keep going in circles culturally. Hahn is well known for her roles in comedies such as The Goods: Live Hard Sell Hard and Step-Brothers.
Next up to be announced was Ellen Barkin who will guest star as Thom’s co-worker Dani Kirschenbloom. Dani has no illusions about the truth in advertising or life and is described as “the sardonic prophet-philosopher” of the series. Barkin was last seen on TV in the shows The New Normal and Modern Family.
Rhys Ifans was originally cast in the pilot as a close friend and mentor of Thom. There was no word at this time as to whether he will be asked back to resume that role or if they will go with another actor or actress.
With the pilot set to begin production again in New York this December, Happyish has a long road ahead of it again. But with a cast like this I have all the faith that Showtime may have another hit series on their hands.