In a follow-up to my previous article about Andy Whitfield, whose epic battle with a treatable form of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma has delayed Season 2 of Starz hit series Spartacus : Blood and Sand, Starz has announced that pre-production is underway on a new six-part prequel to the show.
While Andy Whitfield, who played the title role in the series, will briefly appear in two episodes of the prequel, it will be Lucy Lawless and John Hannah who take center stage. The story will center on the rise of the House of Batiatus and its champions before Spartacus arrives as a captured Thracian slave. With the title still to be determined, the prequel will begin production this summer in New Zealand, and is slated to air on Starz in January 2011.
Other returning actors include Peter Mensah (Doctore), Manu Bennett (Crixus), Antonio Te Maioha (Barca), Nick E. Tarabay (Ashur), Lesley-Ann Brandt (Naevia) – and others. New characters will also be added – most notably the gladiator who was champion of the House of Batiatus before Spartacus or even Crixus – who will help fill in the story about the people and politics in the House of Batiatus and ancient Capua as a whole.
“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 CEO Chris Albrecht. “We look forward to continuing the Spartacus story.”
Produced by Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen and Steven S. DeKnight, Spartacus: Blood and Sand was the highest rated show for the 18-49 demographic among all cable networks for 12 of the 13 Fridays on which it aired based on coverage rating. The production team remains intact for the six-part prequel which is expected to air later this year or in January of next year.