'Help' on the way
“Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal is ready to make his primetime return — but this time in front of the camera.
Rosenthal has signed up for a recurring role on the Regency TV-produced ABC comedy “Help Me Help You,” in which Ted Danson stars as a shrink who specializes in group therapy. He’ll appear alongside thesps Jonathan Katz and Jane Lynch (“Talladega Nights”) as part of a group of therapists Danson’s character sees when he needs psychological help.
Series creators Jennifer Konner and Alexandra Rushfield said they want to use what they’re calling the “group group” every few episodes, possibly adding some other names into the mix (including mentor Judd Apatow, who gave them their big break on his Fox laffer “Undeclared”). Tyro showrunners recruited Rosenthal during a lunch they set up with him to seek out his advice on how to be an effective exec producer.
Rosenthal — prepping for the Oct. 23 release of his autobiographical tome “You’re Lucky You’re Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom” — isn’t a novice thesp. He did an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” a couple years ago, and he had a role in James L. Brooks’ “Spanglish.”
“I studied acting, writing and directing in school,” he said, noting he gave up the pursuit of a thesp career back in 1988. “They’re all branches off the same tree, and one strengthens the other.”
Konner said she and Rushfield consider the trio of Rosenthal, Katz and Lynch their “debt of gratitude casting.”
“They’re people we think we owe something to,” she said. “Our great goal would be to get Bob Newhart.”
She said Katz also made sense for the role because of his Dr. Katz alter ego, while Lynch has had a recurring role as a therapist on “Two and a Half Men.”
Producers also have decided to make Danson’s character a member of a garage band called Pink Freud, enlisting “Spinal Tap’s” Michael McKean, Tim Meadows and Dave Higgins to play with Danson.
Rosenthal, meanwhile, said he’s dividing his time between launching the book, managing his investment in L.A. restaurants such as Jar and Providence and a possible screenplay.