'Spartacus' halts production

12:44 PM PST 03/09/2010 by James Hibberd, AP

Star Andy Whitfield diagnosed with cancer

Starz's freshman drama "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" has halted series production due to star Andy Whitfield being diagnosed with cancer.

Whitfield plays the title role in the show and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and will begin treatment immediately.

"I'm receiving excellent care, and am feeling strong, positive and determined with an army of support behind me," Whitfield said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy," says Chris Albrecht, president and CEO of Starz. "His health, of course, is our primary concern. He has our complete support during this difficult time."

Whitfield's cancer is described as "very treatable" and was detected in its early stages. The second season of "Spartacus" was scheduled to begin shooting in New Zealand.
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