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Spartacus: Whitfield Has to Quit; Future of Starz TV Show Uncertain

Andy WhitfieldThe future of Starz’s Spartacus series is now in doubt. The show’s lead, Andy Whitfield, has withdrawn from filming the second season.

The first season, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, tells the story of the classic gladiator and stars newcomer Andy Whitfield as the title character. The show also stars Antonio Te Maioha, Craig Parker, Erin Cummings, Lucy Lawless, John Hannah, Manu Bennett, Nick E. Tarabay, and Peter Mensah.

Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in March and, after treatment, was declared cancer-free in May. He was training hard to get back into filming and, at Comic-Con, Whitfield said he felt “better than ever.” He’s now been advised by his doctors to resume aggressive treatments immediately.

In a statement, Whitfield said, “It’s with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved. It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey. Thank you sincerely for the support so far.”

Spartacus was renewed for a second season even before the first started airing. Shooting of the second season was postponed so Whitfield could undergo treatment. To fill the absence, Starz ordered a prequel called Spartacus: Gods of the Arena which focuses on co-stars Lawless and Hannah. It tells the tale of the rise of the House of Batiatus before Spartacus’ arrival in Capua.

Whitfield was supposed to return to shoot Spartacus next month. No decisions have yet been made about the future of the series thus far. “Right now, we just want to extend our concern and support to Andy and his family,” said Carmi Zlotnik, managing director, Starz Media. “We will address our programming plans at some later date.”

The second season of Spartacus was expected to air next September. On a positive note, the prequel is currently filming in New Zealand and will debut in January 2011 as planned.

What do you think? What should Starz do? Suspend production of season two until Whitfield can hopefully return? Recast the role, do another prequel, or cancel the series altogether?

 

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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen G February 5, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Our prayers go out to Andy and his family as he is treated and rests his body for what we pray is a complete recovery. No series has captured the attention to detail and history that SPARTACUS has, and we have enjoyed the prequel made in Andy’s absence w/many of the exceptional original actors and the excellent newcomers. We’ll wait for as long as it takes for Andy to return to his role, but if his health prevents its, we don’t want to see anyone but him in the role of SPARTACUS….he is irreplaceable. I just spent three weeks in the hospital after battling my own health challenges for 17 years. Bless each of the actors and those behind the cameras! Well done….always will be in our DVD collection!

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Jesse Cory February 5, 2011 at 8:49 am

Best wishes to Andy and his family. As for Spartacus there Is no one that can come close playing spartucus the way he does we hope to see him in the future on Spartacus .We think it Is the best show ever.

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Mary February 3, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Please wait for Andy!!!! The show its self is great But Andy is the iceing on the cake. I will enjoy the prequil but after that If Andy doesn’t resume his part I cant see myself watching with someone else playing his role. I don’t like change. But most importantly I wish the best for Andy and his family. I dont pray very often but I will say a prayer for Andy and his family.

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Pharoah January 31, 2011 at 11:13 am

Life must move on. We havent stopped buying Elvis merchandise, nor have we stopped watching re-runs of our favorite shows. So why would you turn your backs to the show because of un-forseen circumstances. Andy wouldnt want this. He would want for the fans to continue to support the show and if he gave his blessings to the new actor we all should too. Much love to Stephen Deknight , Andy Whitfield, the entire Spartacus cast and starz for creating such an amazing masterpiece.

Loyal fan for Life.
Da Pharoah

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JC January 24, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Andy and his family come first. That is far more important than entertainment. Cast the part with a new leading man. Should Andy ever decide to return, the public will wecome him w open arms….we are not children….we had more than one Bond. Right?

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Lukas January 23, 2011 at 2:15 am

Im hopeing For a quick recovery for Andy Whitfield Hopefully the new series of Sparticus gods of the arena will give him plenty of time to recover then he canmove on with sparticus season two.

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Nicole January 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm

My name is Nicole and I’m not going to lie, I was really looking forward to watching Andy in HD for season 2 of Spartacus. I’ll make the best of it because I know the deviant writing will keep me interested and the great HD graphics will keep me glued for all 6 episodes. As a DISH Network employee there’s a lot of hype about upgrading to HD, and as a true Spartacus fan there isn’t a better way to enjoy this show!

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Susan January 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I truly pray for him health comes first..Im loving Spartacus series

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Lynda January 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm

please wait for Andy, God is good so we just have to trust that he will return , just Trust GOD !

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sam stone January 17, 2011 at 1:41 am

I have been waiting all year for Season 2. Just heard what is going on and why a prequel but not a full season 2. Very disturbing. I am sticking withj th show and Starz to see what is going to happen.

Easily the best show on TV. The show must go on. I am not insensitive but there are so many avenues to take.

1. find a new Spartacus….fans will follow….there is no show like it and continue the story. If Whit is really going to return then have a bunch of side stories until Season 3 when Whit is better, like

2. Have Crixus and the his clan and/ or the germans and/or others break up in their own stories as freed gladiators recruiting others and hearing of Spartacus and his victories…you have them find other gladiators….some from the house of Batius are caught and they have mini rebellions in each house telling the tale of Spartacus

3. Have other gladiators who have heard the legend of spartacus start their own inner house rebellion.

There is a gap in TV..you guys have a following I may only watch so many repeats. If Starz does not get this show going with ai full season I am many others will cancel. We want a full season.

All my prayers to Whit by their are so many others involved by way of productionm and fans. This is not fair.

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Jeffrey Flores January 11, 2011 at 1:25 am

The only thing we can do is pray for him…hope you get better soon..

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Meliqua & Alvina January 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I think that the season should be suspended, Spartacus is the only series that my family and I have watched faithfully and fallen in love with at first sight. The series is great but Andy makes it untouchable. Our prayers are with Andy and family and look forward to his recovery and return to the set!

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Julie December 27, 2010 at 9:13 pm

If you look through the history of cinema, once a successful tv show replaces a beloved actor (for any reason) that show tends to lose steam and viewers, in which the “death” of the show occurs. I fell in love with the show because of the wonderfully rich character that Andy Whitfield plays. He breathes emotions and vitality into the Spartacus Series by the vast array of those emotions that you can see in his eyes, on his face, and yes ladies……with his body language. He is an extremely talented actor and has personified the character of Spartacus in my mind. I think that Starz made a great decision to make a prequel to buy some time. It will definitely help us to understand where all the other colorful characters came from and give us a little more of their stories. I think that fans will enjoy watching that and wont mind waiting for Andy to recover so that he can resume filming. I think that Starz should take the episodes from season 1 “blood and sand” and consolidate what they can into several episodes to recap what happens in season 1 (after the prequel) which will buy them a little more time if needed for Andy to recover. All of us fans just need to continue to pray for Andy and his family, and for his speedy recovery.

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Travis Thomas December 23, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I love Andy Whitfield as Spartacus and he cannot be replaced so producers should do the prequel and hope and pray that Andy recovers and can return if not the show cannot and will not survive without him, my heart and prayers go out to Andy and his family and I hope to see him back in the arena soon. Andy will definetely be in my prayers we love you and You will beat this i know it

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Diana December 18, 2010 at 9:24 am

God Bless Andy Whitfield and family. I pray for your recovery!

I love Spartacus! I only have basic cable so rented the first series and watched it in less than one month.

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todd January 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm

wait for Whitfield in september I’m looking forward to the prequil best wishes to Andy looking to see him return healthy and raise hell in Rome

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