Starz is going ahead on a second season of Starz without cancer-stricken star Andy Whitfield, but no one made the decision lightly, network CEO Chris Albrecht said Friday.
The network announced at the Television Critics Association winter press tour Friday that the show would go on despite the lead actor, Andy Whitfield, being unable to return because he is undergoing aggressive treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"We all thought long and hard about whether it was a good idea not just because of the obvious challenge of replacing the title character, especially when he was portrayed so brilliantly by Andy," Albrecht told TheWrap. "But also because of the creative challenge of where the first season left off."
The network is very close to naming a new Spartacus, he said.
"We're in great shape with casting," Albrecht said. "We have not made a final decision but we are... in the final stages of the decision, and I expect it to be made within a few weeks."
He added that the show is "in the final stages of the decision, not the negotiations."
"Aside from the creative success that the show has become, it is a big business success," he said. "So in a world where you've got to keep taking risks and doing things that maybe you didn't think you'd do before, we're going ahead with the series and we're going to have a new Spartacus."
Audiences can see the prequel "Spartacus: God of the Arena,” which doesn't include Whitfield, on Jan. 21.