TCA Press Tour: ‘Spartacus’: ‘Gods of the Arena’ or gods of TV?

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Though only a week into production, “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” is shaping up to be just as much of a guilty pleasure as its predecessor.

“I gotta tell you, its pretty fantastic,” Steven S. DeKnight, creator and executive producer of the highly anticipated prequel to “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” set to premiere in January on Starz.


The prequel follows Gannicus (Dustin Clare), the first gladiator to become Champion of Capua.

In the series, which takes place before Spartacus joins the ludus (gladiator training school), there will be a few familiar faces, as Lucy Lawless (Lucretia), John Hannah (Batiatus), Peter Mensah (Oenomaus) and Manu Bennett (Crixus) have all reprised their roles.

DeKnight provided a major spoiler alert during the press tour when he confirmed Lawless would indeed be back for Season Two of the original series, after it was assumed -- with great measure -- that her character was murdered in Season One.

Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) will also appear briefly in the prequel and rejoin the show in Season Two, which is set to begin shooting later this year.

Production on the second season of the hit show had to be halted while the star battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Though not ideal by any means, it gave DeKnight the opportunity to transform a Season Two flashback episode he had in the works into the six-part series.

“It was just a one-episode thing. Once we found out what was going on with Andy we thought, ‘Let’s blow this out,’” DeKnight said. “It was an unfortunate circumstance ... [but] he looks fantastic. He’s in great spirits. He looks better than I have in my entire life.”

As for the seemingly overnight success of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” -- it was the highest rated show for the 18-to-49 demographic among all cable networks for 12 of the 13 Fridays, maybe thanks in part to the gory battle scenes and no-holds-barred sex -- DeKnight is still getting used to it himself.

“It’s been phenomenal and shocking. You’re never prepared for extreme success or extreme failure,” he said.

Gerrick D. Kennedy

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