The Starter Wife



Airdate: 9-11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10 (USA Network)

If you ever wondered why Hollywood is identified with dirty dealing, hypocrisy, moral bankruptcy, overindulged children and a ceaseless preoccupation with status, check out "The Starter Wife," which is being restarted on USA Network.

More than 16 months ago, this was a miniseries about the pain and recovery of a woman who found herself suddenly and unexpectedly divorced by her husband, a midlevel film producer. Based on the book by Gigi Levangie Grazer, who knows a little something about the subject, the miniseries was rife with sharp humor, ironic observations and occasional inside jokes.

The miniseries picked up 10 Emmy nominations and a win for supporting actress Judy Davis. Better still, from USA's standpoint, it was a ratings winner.

It returns with the core original cast, starting with Debra Messing as Molly Kagan, who desperately wants to succeed in a career as a writer, and preferably not just children's books. Davis returns as Joan McAllister, a barely recovered alcoholic and one of Molly's two best friends. The other is gay interior designer Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos), who tends to get too personally involved with his clients.

A brief summary of the miniseries leads into a dream sequence in which Molly, dressed as Queen Elizabeth I, swears off men, dating and sex to focus on her career and 7-year-old daughter, Jaden (Brielle Barbusca). Then Molly signs up for a writing class given by Zach (Hart Bochner) and you know -- even if she doesn't -- that all bets are off.

Years of honing her comedy skills on "Will & Grace" have turned Messing into a superb comic actress. It's worth watching just to see her expressions as she gets in and out of predicaments, including especially the theft of her journal, with its treasure trove of embarrassing stories.

Add to that, the spectacular Davis, whose hilariously cynical Joan struggles with sobriety while holding down a part-time job at a ritzy residential rehab. There, her nemesis is spoiled actor David Shea (guest star Daniel Gerroll), who finds new and imaginative ways to get away and get drunk.

While it is far from apparent that Friday night is the best place for this smart and stylish show, one can assume USA will move it elsewhere, if necessary, to give it the chance it deserves.

Production: NBC Universal Studio in association with McGibbon/Parriott Prods. and 3Arts Entertainment.
Cast: Debra Messing, Judy Davis, Chris Diamantopoulos, Danielle Nicolet, David Alan Basche, Brielle Barbusca, Hart Bochner, Ronny Cox, Krista Allen.
Executive producers: Debra Messing, Gigi Levangie Grazer, Josann McGibbon, Sara Parriott, Stephanie Davis, Howard Klein, Molly Madden.
Co-executive producers: Howard Morris, Constance M. Burge, Dan Lerner.
Produced by: Steve Sassen.
Producer: Tod Himmel.
Co-producer: Lorie Zerweck.
Writers: Josann McGibbon, Sara Parriott.
Based on the book by: Gigi Levangie Grazer.
Director of photography: Kenneth D. Zunder.
Production designer: Philip Toolin.
Editors: Nancy Morrison, Paul Dixon.
Music: Starr Parodi, Jeff Eden Fair.
Set designer: Beau Petersen.
Casting: Laura Schiff, Carrie Audino.