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Starz’s six-part prequel to their runaway hit series “Spartacus” has begun populating its arena. Now titled “Gods of the Arena”, the prequel will rejoin the House of Batiatus before Spartacus and the other gladiators rebelled (with bloody results) at the end of the “Spartacus” first season, meaning John Hannah and Lucy Lawless as his deceiving wife will be back to spur on a new group of gladiators to combat. Gratuitous nudity and bloodshed, no doubt, ensues.
“Gods of the Arena” will focus on a gladiator named Gannicus (to be played by Aussie Dustin Clare, right), the reigning champ at the House of Batiatus before Spartacus’s arrival in the first season of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”. I didn’t watch the first season closely enough to know if Gannicus was ever mentioned, but in the prequel he’ll be taking center stage as he leads the House of Batiatus and John Hannah to glory.
Also joining Clare will be “Dexter’s” Jaime Murray (below, left), playing a Capua social climber, while Marisa Ramirez (below, right) will be plying her trade as a slave girl. If “Gods of the Arena” sticks to the pedigree of “Blood and Sand”, no doubt both the fetching Murray and Ramirez will be nude at least at one point (or a dozen) in the series. Together now, kids: Yaaaaay!
“Spartacus” star Andy Whitfield will appear in the prequel, probably bookending its beginning and ending just to ensure formal ties to the ongoing series. The second season of “Spartacus”, originally delayed because of Whitfield’s cancer concerns (which was also the impetus for the prequel in the first place, a temporary place holder until Whitfield could return to shooting), will start shooting as soon as “Gods of the Arena” wraps for airing sometime in late 2011.