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Spartacus star has cancer; quits series

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Caffeinated Clint
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Not-so-good-news today. “Spartacus : Blood and Sand” star Andy Whitfield has revealed he’s battling Cancer again.

Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March. Production on the drama’s freshman season was halted while the actor received medical care.

The actor, who hit the big time when he was cast in the Starz series, has to immediately undergo treatment for the recurrence of the disease. As a result, Whitfield won’t be back for season 2 of the series.

“It’s with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved. It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey. Thank you sincerely for the support so far,” said Whitfield.

“Our hearts and prayers are with Andy and his family during this difficult time,” said Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht. “Andy is not only an incredible actor whose portrayal of Spartacus made an indelible impression on Starz audiences, he is also an amazing human being whose courage, strength, and grace in the face of adversity have inspired all of us.”

No decisions have yet been made about the future of the series. “Right now, we just want to extend our concern and support to Andy and his family,” said Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director, Starz Media. “We will address our programming plans at some later date.”

The second season of “Spartacus” was due to screen in September of 2011.

Starz still plans to air the prequel to “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” in January 2011. Entitled “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” it focuses on the House of Batiatus before Spartacus arrives in Capua and stars returning cast members John Hannah, Lucy Lawless, Peter Mensah and Manu Bennett, along with newcomer Dustin Clare.

I spoke to Whitfield a couple of years ago, when he was stumping the low-budget Aussie thriller “Gabriel”, and found him to be a very congenial, decent guy. At the time he was tossing up whether or not to give the U.S a try. He obviously did, and it all worked out. Guessing he’d let the almighty one take away all his success in exchange for his health.

Hope you’re OK, Andy. Our best to you.

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