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Starz greenlights 'Spartacus' prequel‎

May 11, 2010 |  1:54 pm

Lucretia_Batiatus Don't put away the swords just yet.

Starz has ordered a six-part prequel to its original series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand," the network announced Tuesday.

Andy Whitfield, who starred as the title character in the original series, will resume his role briefly in the prequel; the actor has been battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. But this time around, social climbers Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) and Batiatus (John Hannah) get the Roman treatment in the story about the rise of the House of Batiatus and its gladiators before the arrival of Spartacus as a slave.

“The prequel story maintains the excitement and entertainment value of the first season of ‘Spartacus,’ giving audiences the engaging experience they’ve come to expect,” said Starz President and Chief Executive Chris Albrecht in a statement. “Fortunately, Andy is responding to his treatments, and will be able to be part of this prequel in a limited capacity. As soon as he’s able, we look forward to continuing the Spartacus story.”

Other returning actors include Peter Mensah (Doctore), Manu Bennett (Crixus), Antonio Te Maioho (Barca), Nick E. Tarabay (Ashur), Lesley-Ann Brandt (Naevia), among others. New characters join the mix, including the gladiator who preceded Spartacus and Crixus at the House of Batiatus.

Production for the untitled prequel will begin this summer in New Zealand and is scheduled to air in January.

A second season of "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," which was on hold due to Whitfield's illness, is expected to continue where it left off after the airing of the prequel. 

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Lucy Lawless and John Hannah as Lucretia and Batiatus, respectively. Credit: Starz