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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 The show’s lead, Andy Whitfield, has withdrawn from filming the second season.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 }

Alice March 1, 2011 at 10:18 am

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this show please do not end it. I pray Andy heals and recovers soon. There is sooooo much you can do for prequals and intertwine the aspect that the GOD’s will deliver a Gladiator above all Gladiators until Andy is better and able to rejoin the show. Also I don’t think Lucretia died her fingers will still twitching and I saw Quintus move one finger but just once. Let Quintus remain in a coma and when he wakens tell the tale of how the Gods came to him with the legend of Spartacus. Let Lucretia rule for awhile until he awakes from the coma.

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vincent February 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm

That really sucks I just found out about Andy. The show is amazing I don’t watch much t.v but this one is a 12 15 season show easy. I didn’t even know there was anymore past season 1, untill yesterday now I finished the prequil and can’t wait for more. I really hope Andy can return, I hate it when characters are replaced although, if he is, I will still watch the show.

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ronthegray February 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I am saddened by the news about Andy – he took this series to a place I think many never imagined it would be. I would like to see the series delayed and Andy resume his lead role again. I enjoyed the prequel as it was truly well done. I hope the people at Starz work with Andy again as I hope he and his family overcome this new adversity – my prayers are with him and his family.

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Imm February 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Wow! Gods of the Arena was awesome! Six episodes were simply not enough. It answered lots of questions I had when watching season one. I pray that Andy recovers not only for the show, but for himself and his family. Andy, once you get better and feeling fine, I’d love to see you resume your role. True, he cannot be replaced. But this show, the best on TV today, must go on. I fein for more. I was shocked, then disappointed that both Quintus and Lucretia died at the end of Blood and Sand, so their story cannot be continued. But there is indeed storylines that still require development and should be explored for round 2 of the pre-quel. Let’s go!

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Anonymous February 26, 2011 at 10:13 am

It infuriates me to even begin to think that producers at starz would replace Andy!, No one could ever fill his shoes of the character that he so brilliantly plays and brings to life. I hope and pray that you , Andy make a full recovery and can get back to what you love doing . Also they should do another prequal about Crixxus time as champion and explore more into the turmoiling relationship between Batiartus and good Saloneus and when Andy is better they should include Gannacus in season2
of blood and sand

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zoe February 24, 2011 at 7:49 pm

i hope everything goes well… and i hope you can finish your show that you have started because its is the best show i have ever seen i can not get away from it for two seconds… hope you and you family my best wishes…

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D.A February 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

First of all I would like to say to Andy, Get Well, I went through the exact same disease, and am now in remission for 4 years now, I hope you do the same.

As far as the show, maybe another prequel exploit the life of the Slave Master, (and his first and only loss to Thiocoles). Or the Father’s reign before Quintos married Domina, but whatever you do please do not cancel the show altogether. This is not just the best show on Starz, it’s the best show on Cable TV, Satellite or anything.

If you do another prequel, and Andy still is not able to come back to filming, you should have a meeting with him, because he understands business is business, and at that time discuss next steps of replacing him because at that time the show must go on.

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DANNY ANTONETTI February 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

I think they can do another prequel with the rise of the house of Batiatus with Ganicuss and the glory days of Crixus and give more time to Andy Witfield’s cancer threatment . But if Andy do not get better, the show must continue with another star to encarnate SPARTACUS. Remember Andy is unique GOD BLESS HIM!!!

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Sepricus Antonius February 22, 2011 at 8:14 am

Lest I forget, my prayers are with the andy and his family, we wish you good health and speedy recovery, best wishes.

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Sepricus Antonius February 22, 2011 at 8:11 am

I agree with Omar I like crexis as much as sparticus a story of crexis rise to championship would be a excellent story to by Andy more time for recovery and back in the luda for season two. Maybe even throw a bit of asher’s background for a potential “extended prequel” to buy even more time for sparticus’ return.

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Jake February 22, 2011 at 7:21 am

He just needs to focus on his health and recovery. I believe they should continue the story without a Spartacus,no one could replace the original in my opinion.

What Starz should do is put Spartacus’s story on halt while he recovers and continue the other aspects of the world. Show us the other houses, arena combat outside of capua, perhaps rome. In my eyes they could follow a new starring character and story with each season and weave it in, show how they connect to the other main characters. So many different routes they can take the story besides the slave revolt, it’s limitless.

Then when Spartacus is better, we have a rich perception of the world and the characters in it. We can see his story, and how it unravels.

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omar 3:16 February 21, 2011 at 11:39 pm

the series is a masterpices I really liked this season of gods of the arena not deseapoint my espectations I hope consider to not terminate such a great serie like that let finish this season give time to andy to recover, if he can con back to 3rd season let do another side story maybe the time when crisus was champion between this season finale and the arrival of spartacus to capua. I know the writer has the talent to do it and do it right.
my best hopes and wishes for andy, we want him to finish what he started anyone deserve to do the sparatacus role more that the man who brings it life. be well.

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Elizabeth Dodson February 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Andy,

You and you family are in our prayers. I do have to say though to not have you in the show simply put sucks. I do hope Starz is able to find a lookalike replacement for you so the show can go on until you are able to return to us.

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Lentulus Batiatus February 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm

They should do another prequel

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Jwood February 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm

At first I thought the Prequel was going to be a total let down because we already know the outcome of the story. I can honestly say that I stand corrected. I am truly enjoying Spartacus gods of the arena. I do pray that Andy gets well and that he can continue the Spartacus adventure but until then there are hundreds of gladiators that can be explored and the writers will find a way to do it. And the fact that roman history is not completely recorded leaves many chances to completely invent a fictional story line and characters and incorporate then into the roman society. Best wishes Andy.

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