Starz CEO: 'Spartacus' may go off air

Andy Whitfield's cancer battle has put series in jeopardy

NEW YORK -- Starz is still considering "all options" for the future of "Spartacus" and expects to have an update in the coming weeks, Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht said here Friday.

With star Andy Whitfield out of commission as he battles cancer, Albrecht told the annual investor and analyst meeting of parent Liberty Media here that "hopefully" a new season of "Spartacus" will come to Starz subscribers next year after a planned prequel to the show.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog exclusively reported earlier this month that Starz has reached out to casting directors about potentially casting a new lead for the show.

But a new season of the show is not sure.

"If not, we'll have something else in the fourth quarter" of 2011, Albrecht said without providing additional details about alternative options.

"Spartacus" has been "a great story for Starz," but not the only big play in original programming, Albrecht said, citing such 2011 original programming as "Camelot" and "Torchwood."

Asked later by The Hollywood Reporter about the "Spartacus" options, Albrecht said casting folks will look at possible replacements - good actors who are young and look the part - for Whitfield and pointed to Australian actor Dustin Clare, who plays the lead in the prequel, as an example of how talent can come from unexpected places.

If a casting change doesn't pan out, Albrecht said Starz would look at using another project from its development pipeline in late 2011.
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