'Starter' set: Mantegna, Otto, Young


Joe Mantegna, Miranda Otto and Aden Young have joined Debra Messing in the cast of USA Network's limited series "The Starter Wife."

Meanwhile, Clea Lewis has been tapped to co-star opposite Andy Richter on NBC's midseason comedy series "Andy Barker, P.I."

The six-hour "Starter Wife," from NBC Universal Television Studio, centers on the quest of a divorced woman (Messing) to redefine herself after years of marriage to a Hollywood studio head.

Mantegna will portray Lou, a studio executive and the boss to Messing's character's ex-husband. He also is one of the few people to remain friendly with her after her divorce. Otto will play Cricket, one of Messing's closest friends, but their relationship changes after the divorce. Young will portray Cricket's husband.

"We're pleased to have such fine actors on board," said Laurette Hayden, senior vp longform programming at USA. "They are a wonderful complement to our star, Debra Messing, and I love the combination of their respective talents and distinctive qualities. The piece continues to attract really high-quality talent."

"Starter Wife," based on the novel by Gigi Levangie Grazer, who is serving as one of the executive producers, is set to begin production in Australia in early November and is targeted to premiere in late spring.

Jon Avnet is set to direct and executive produce the project, while Sara Parriott and Josann McGibbon are the writers and also are executive producing along with Stephanie Davis and Howard Klein from 3 Arts Entertainment.

Mantegna voices the role of Fat Tony on Fox's "The Simpsons" as well as in the upcoming "Simpsons" feature film. His recent credits include co-starring in CBS' "Joan of Arcadia" and the feature film "The Kid & I."

Otto's recent credits include the films "War of the Worlds," "Flight of the Phoenix," "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Young's credits include the movies "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course," "The Bet" and "Human Touch."

"Andy Barker," from NBC Uni TV Studio and studio-based Conaco Prods., stars Richter as an accountant-turned-gumshoe. Lewis will play his wife. She replaces Amy Farrington who played the role in the pilot.

Lewis' series credits include ABC's "Ellen" and CBS' "Maggie Winters."

Nellie Andreeva contributed to this report.