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‘Men’ undergoing major cast revamp

NEW YORK — In a major cast revamp, Ron Eldard and Justine Bateman will exit the NBC sitcom “Men Behaving Badly” shortly after the start of its sophomore season, leaving Rob Schneider as the only remaining member of the original starring triumvirate.

The network made a deal late Monday with Ken Marino to replace Eldard, and brought in Jenica Brgereto replace Bateman.

The switch on the Carsey-Werner-produced sitcom has been rumored for several weeks. Both actors apparently wanted to exit the show, unhappy with its direction and the turnover of producers. NBC was required to renew the actor’s options Monday, and closed a deal just under the wire that allowed Eldard and Bateman to exit — after returning for an undetermined number of episodes to smooth the casting transition.

Marino was hired late last week after a most unusual audition. On June 10, he accompanied John Bowman — the “Martin” vet brought in to shore up “Men” for its soph season — on a flight to Hong Kong to screen test with Schneider. They didn’t take the long trip for the exteriors — Schneider’s in Hong Kong co-starring with Jean-Claude Van Damme in “Knockoff.”

Eldard, who joined the series after a regular stint on NBC’s top-rated “ER,” is now doing the indie film “Delivered,” and starts work in August on the Mimi Leder-directed “Deep Impact.” He’s also a possible replacement for Stephen Baldwin in “The Object of My Affection,” but no deal has been concluded.

Marino’s best known for being part of the State, the sketchcom troupe that starred in an MTV series. He has since done guest-starring stints in such sitcoms as “Spin City,” “Boston Common” and “The Single Guy.” He will be seen next in the Andrew Niccol film “Gattaca.” He’s repped by William Morris’ James Dixon, Jennifer Craig and Jane Rosenberg. He’s managed by Ted Schachter.

Brgere is a series vet who had roles in the CBS sitcom “Ink” and the ABC sitcom “The Faculty.” She also appeared in “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion.” She’s managed by Donna Chavous of Brillstein-Grey and her agent is Bill Veloric at the Artists Group.

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