TCA Press Tour 2011: Starz continues plans for Season 2 of 'Spartacus' without lead Andy Whitfield
Whitfield's departure and its effect on the show was discussed during the network’s panel at the TV press tour, with network president Chris Albrecht saying the series would pick up where it left off.
“We don’t have casting news,” he said. “We’re very confident where we are in the casting process of finding a lead actor to step into Spartacus’ sandals, though we will never be able to truly replace Andy Whitfield.”
Whitfield was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which delayed production of the second season that was originally scheduled to air the fall of 2011. To fill the gap as casting directors searched for a replacement, Starz greenlit the prequel “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” set to premiere Jan. 21.
Writer and executive producer Steven S. DeKnight said Whitfield’s exit won’t hinder the story. “Season 2 is continuing with the story we were planning on telling about Spartacus,” he said.
Executive producer Rob Tapert added: “Nothing good came from losing Andy in terms of the guy for that role. If there’s any upside to Andy’s illness it's that we are better prepared to support the new Sparatcus when he comes into the role … [It’ll be ] a very epic Season 2.”
In addition, the Starz session included a panel on its 10-episode "Torchwood" reboot, which sees the return of John Barrowman as alien-fighting Captain Jack and Eve Myles as former cop Gwen, with two new characters, CIA agents Rex (Mekhi Phifer) and Esther (Alexa Havins).
A premiere date for "Torchwood" has not been set. The network's hourlong drama about King Arthur's court, "Camelot," will premiere in April.
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Dustin Clare, center, is Gannicus in the Starz prequel "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena." Credit: Starz