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November 19, 2004 - Image 60

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-11-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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In "Huff" Hank Azaria plays a successful New York therapist
dealing with functionally insane people at work and an equally
demanding family at home.


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Copley News Service


ank Azaria was starring in a
stage production of Sexual
Perversity in Chicago in
London's West End last year when his
Hollywood-based manager forwarded
the pilot and the second-episode scripts
of Huff He wasn't anxious to get
involved with the horrendous weekly
grind of a one-hour dramedy, but made
the mistake of reading the manuscripts.
And fell in love with them.
Azaria plays Dr. Craig "Huff"
Huffstodt, a successful New York shrink
dealing with functionally insane people
professionally and facing an equally sur-
real family life with an overbearing
mother (Blythe Danner), a wife near
meltdown (Paget Brewster), a sensitive
teenage son (Anton Yelchin) and an
institutionalized schizophrenic brother
(Andy Comeau). In essence, Huff never
has a day off and seems destined for a
massive flameout.
To make sure he was on the right
path, Azaria passed one of the scripts by
creator and executive producer Bob
Lowry to his own Beverly Hills shrink
for comment before going into produc-
"He gave it two thumbs up," laughed

Azaria, 40, "because he found the story
pretty interesting and pretty realistic. He
gave me his honest appraisal, only point-
ing out a couple of technical flaws —
[such] as the procedures followed when
a psychiatrist prescribes a medication."
Fifteen years (off and on) of psy-
chotherapy with the same psychiatrist
has been an infinite blessing, according
to Azaria.
"It has gotten me through things like a
divorce (from actress Helen Hunt) and
the strength to deal with friends battling
alcoholism. Besides the tragedies in my
life, I have found it tremendously help-
ful just to have somebody objective
download my anxieties, stresses and
"[Therapy] has really helped me stay
creative and sane, given the fact that
show business is very difficult and stress-
ful in many ways," he continued. Its a
profession where you feel like you're con-
stantly being judged and literally called
on to perform on cue. We all have huge
pressures in life, and this is certainly one
of them. Having a place to go and some-
one professional to talk to about what's
really bothering me has been a tremen-
dous boon in my life."
Not particularly impressed with men-
tal health drama series since The
Psychiatrist with Roy Thinnes, Azaria

Shedding New Light

"NOVA" explores the "Cave of Letters," the last refuge
of followers of Jewish patriot Shimon Bar Kokhba.

rom Shimon Bar Kokhba to
Yehonatan ... get ahold of the
young men and come with
them. And I shall deal with the
So wrote legendary Jewish patriot
Shimon Bar Kokhba to his supporters
during a desperate uprising for religious
freedom in the year 132. NOVA
explores the last refuge of one group of
Bar Kokhba's followers with a historian
whose bold theories have rocked the
world of biblical archaeology in an
episode titled 'Ancient Refuge in the
Holy Land." It airs 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov.
23, on many PBS stations (check your
local listings).
The expedition takes NOVA to a


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remote cave in the Judean desert, first
excavated by the famed Israeli archaeolo-
gist Yigael Yadin in 1960. Yadin uncov-
ered a cache of ancient documents,
human skulls and artifacts that shed new
light on the Bar Kokhba revolt, which
resulted in the Roman slaughter of
580,000 Jews.
Now, Jewish historian Richard Freund
of the University of Hartford returns to
the cave, certain that the site still holds
startling secrets. The place is called the
Cave of Letters, after one of Yadin's most
notable finds: letters from Bar Kokhba
himself and the haunting personal
archive of Babata, one of several women
who lived in the cave along with dozens
of children.

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