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“Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” the highly anticipated prequel to Starz’ hit original series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” will debut on Friday, January 21 at 10pm et/pt. The six-part series centers around the story of Gannicus, the charismatic gladiator aspiring to become Champion of Capua, played by Australian actor Dustin Clare, and his master, Quintus Batiatus, played again by John Hannah, itching for the chance to rise in status in the Roman outpost town.
On the heels of the success of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” which was described by TV Guide as “visually dazzling” and by the Chicago Red Eye as, “bold, ambitious and completely different from anything else on TV,” the prequel will feature returning cast members including: Lucy Lawless as Batiatus’ equally ambitious wife Lucretia; Peter Mensah as Oenomaus before he becomes the gladiator trainer Doctore; and Manu Bennett as the gladiator Crixus, in addition to Hannah.
Additional new cast members joining Clare include Jaime Murray (“Dexter,” “Valentine”) as Capua’s sexy social climber Gaia and Marisa Ramirez (“General Hospital,” “The Young and the Restless”) as Melitta, a beautiful slave who must face the ultimate decision of the heart.Jeffrey Thomas (“Shark in the Park,” “Mercy Peak”) plays Batiatus’s father Titus, the traditional and cautious Lanista, head of the Ludus.
Clare is best known to Australian audiences, where he had major roles on a number of long-running TV series, including “Satisfaction,” “Underbelly” and “McLeod’s Daughter.” Murray starred in the CW series “Valentine” and had an extended role on Showtime’s “Dexter.” Ramirez is best known for her long runs on “General Hospital” and “The Young and the Restless,” and was recently seen on “Past Life” and “Miami Medical.” Thomas rose to prominence in New Zealand in the late ’80s with the lead role of Inspector Brian Finn in the TVNZ police drama series “Shark in the Park,” and is also well-known for his roles in two long-running New Zealand soap operas, “Mercy Peak” and “Shortland Street.”
“Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” tells the story of the Champion of the House of Batiatus in a more ruthless time before Spartacus’ arrival, when honor was just finding its way into the arena. As the prequel begins, Quintus Batiatus is the acting Lanista while his father is on an extended visit to Sicilia. But Batiatus isn’t satisfied with just the thought of taking over the Ludus one day; he aspires to political power and prestige in Capua, and perhaps beyond. In the class-conscious world of ancient Rome, the House of Batiatus must first earn the respect of politicians as well as socialites before being granted the right for its gladiators to fight in the much-revered championship bouts called the Primus. Batiatus must not only survive the harsh politics of Capua, but also compel his hedonistic fighter, Gannicus, to embrace being a champion gladiator who will bring esteem and respect to the House of Batiatus.
Produced by Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen and Steven S. DeKnight, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” was the highest rated show for the 18-49 demographic among all cable networks for 12 of the 13 Fridays on which it aired based on coverage rating. Total viewers for the series doubled from the premiere episode to the season finale*. The production team remains intact for the six-part prequel.