[03/30/09 - 12:29 PM]
Starz Snares Its Spartacus!
Andy Whitfield is set as the title role, while Lucy Lawless also stars in the original series.

[via press release from Starz]


Aussie Import Andy Whitfield Portrays Legendary Gladiator Leader In Action-Adventure Drama 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand'

Lucy Lawless to Play Scheming Lucretia With Cast of Talented Fresh Faces in Channel's Newest Drama Series, Debuting January 2010

Burbank, CA � March 30, 2009 � After an exhaustive worldwide search, Starz has found the actor to portray the gladiator warrior hero title character of its new action series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand": Andy Whitfield. The actor joins a talented cast of mostly newcomers in the series that begins production April 1 in New Zealand and is slated to premiere on Starz in January 2010.

Lucy Lawless has also been cast as Lucretia, who along with her husband Batiatus, own the Ludus (a gladiator camp) � as well as Spartacus. The couple has fallen on hard times financially and has bought Spartacus hoping his fighting prowess will help them regain their status in the brutal world of gladiatorial contests. Among her many roles, Lawless is best known for portraying "Xena: Warrior Princess" in the long-running global hit series, and has appeared in SCI FI Channel's critically acclaimed "Battlestar Galactica."

The world of gladiators comes to life as the Roman Republic's most brutal fighters clash in the ultimate arena. "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" is an entirely new vision of the ancient legend and will utilize virtual environments giving it a unique graphic novel look and style, along with a fresh narrative approach. Debuting exclusively on Starz, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" is produced by Starz Media with Executive Producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi and Joshua Donen.

The UK-born and Australia-based Whitfield portrays Spartacus, a soldier in the Roman Auxiliary who has been taken prisoner. As punishment for defying a Roman Legate, Spartacus has been sentenced to die in the gladiator arena. But after surviving numerous fights, his sentence is commuted and he has been sold as a slave to be trained as a gladiator. While he is a newcomer in the U.S., Whitfield has gained acclaim in numerous Australian drama series ("McLeod's Daughters," "Packed to the Rafters," "The Strip" and "Out of the Blue") and also starred in the feature film Gabriel, one of the highest grossing films at the Australian Box Office in 2007. He just wrapped shooting on the Australian feature, The Clinic.

Additional cast members include: Erin Cummings ("Dollhouse") as Thracian priestess Sura, Spartacus' wife; Peter Mensah (300, Avatar) as Doctore, Batiatus' most loyal and trusted slave; Manu Bennett (30 Days of Night, The Condemned) as Crixus, the top gladiator at Batiatus' Ludus; Antonio Te Maioha ("Xena: Warrior Princess," "Legend of the Seeker") as Barca, a big, hulking brute of a man who is Batiatus' bodyguard and hit man; Craig Parker (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, "Legend of the Seeker") as Glaber, a Roman Legate, who blames Spartacus for his failed military campaign; and Nick E. Tarabay ("Crash," "The Sopranos") as Ashur, a former gladiator who is now the Ludus' resident bookie.

Executive Producer Steven S. DeKnight ("Smallville," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") has been tapped as the head writer for the series, which was originally developed by Tapert (The Grudge, "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys"), Raimi (Spider-Man and Evil Dead) and Donen (The Quick and the Dead) and is being produced in New Zealand by Starz Media's Starz Productions. DeKnight just finished consulting on Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" and will be writing the upcoming eighth installment of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book series.

Starz's new "Spartacus" series was inspired by the actual slave of the Roman Republic who in 73 BC led a slave revolt that grew to more than 120,000 fighters. Defying the Roman Republic's legions of soldiers, they campaigned for two years through much of what is now Italy before succumbing to a much larger army. The new series will tell a new set of stories rich in character, action, sex and combat.

Anchor Bay Entertainment will hold exclusive worldwide home entertainment distribution rights to "Spartacus," while Starz Media's Worldwide Distribution group will handle international television and domestic syndication sales and Starz Digital Media will be responsible for all digital distribution globally.

About Starz Media

Starz Media, LLC, is a programming production and distribution company operating worldwide. It includes the Film Roman, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and Manga Entertainment brands. Its units create animated and live-action programming -- including theatrical films -- and programming created under contract for other media companies. It distributes that programming, and programming acquired from outside producers, through home video retailers, theaters, broadcasters, ad supported and premium television channels, and Internet and wireless video distributors in the US and internationally. Starz Media (www.starzmedia.com) is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation attributed to the Liberty Capital Group.

About Starz Entertainment

Starz Entertainment, LLC, is a premium movie service provider operating in the United States. It offers 16 movie channels including the flagship Starz� and Encore� brands with approximately 17.7 million and 31.7 million subscribers respectively. Starz Entertainment airs more than 1,000 movies per month across its pay TV channels and offers advanced services including Starz HD, Encore HD, Starz On Demand, Encore On Demand, MoviePlex On Demand, Starz HD On Demand, Encore HD On Demand, MoviePlex HD On Demand, and Starz Play. Starz Entertainment (www.starz.com) is an operating unit of Starz, LLC, which is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation, and is attributed to Liberty Entertainment Group, a tracking stock group of Liberty Media Corporation.

  [march 2009]  


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