Starz Replacing Whitfield In SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND
Published: September 27, 2010 - 10:16am
It seems as though Starz is now beginning to consider it's options involving it's hit series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand after it's star Andy Whitfield was instructed to continue "aggressive treatment" for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Several sites are reporting that one of two things will happen. Either Whitfield will be replaced by another actor or the series will discontinue.
“The two main options are to close up shop or recast,” says DeKnight. “I want to talk to Andy and find out how he feels about the options. That’s obviously very important to us."
Apparently the network has begun discussing with casting directors about possibly finding another actor to take over the show. It's rumored that though the actor may likely play the main character Spartacus, it's possible (but unlikely) they might attempt to re-shape the series around a new central character. The decision to audition other actors was made in conjunction with Whitfield, who is said to support the series continuing forward.
“He’s a trooper,” marvels DeKnight. “He has a very positive outlook.”
Producers are also searching for ways to keep Whitfield involved in the series, even if the second season has to begin shooting without him as Spartacus, as any credit will also ensure that Whitfield remains an employed member of the production.
The first time Whitfield underwent treatment for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Starz stalled productions plans for the second season and instead developed a prequel mini-series so the star had time to focus on treatment and hopefully return in time for the second season. Currently the prequel is filming in New Zealand, with the second season scheduled to start production immediately afterwards.
Starz execs, as well as member of the cast and crew, have been devastated by recent events and would very much prefer to keep Whitfield in the starring role. Sadly, too may things are involved with the decision to just recast the charcater or end the series. One of which is the cast and crew of other "Spartacus" employees are awaiting word on whether their jobs will continue. Delaying production could potentially mean key actors or writers moving on to other opportunities.
“We’re still absorbing what’s happened,” adds DeKnight. “I think it’s going to be a little while before we reach any conclusions.”
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, a prequel to the series, will still air as scheduled in January 2011