November 2009 Archives  

30 November 2009

Upcoming Starz Special - Spartacus Behind The Scenes

Starz has a page up for an upcoming look at behind the scenes on Spartacus.

Go behind the scenes and on the set of the Starz Original series "Spartacus."

Click here for more
News submitted by Barbara Davies



29 November 2009

AUSXIP Spartacus Site Updates

IMDb has been updated with all 13 episodes of Spartacus. Includes credits but some titles are missing

Updated the following sections on AUSXIP Spartacus

Episode Guide

Cast / Character Page

Added Other Characters (other than the main characters)
which include Gladiators, Slaves, Citizens of Capua and Thracians

If you would like to read my reviews of Episode 1 and 2 you can do so here - THEY DO NOT CONTAIN SPOILERS.

Click here to read Episode 1 - The Red Serpet Review

Click here to read Episode 2 - Sacramentum Gladiatorum Review

For what it's worth...I think this show is FANTASTIC! I wouldn't automatically recommend it (even if Lucy was in it) on ausxip unless I thought it was a great show and this is a great show. Having said that I wouldn't have watched it if Lucy wasn't in it but she is and I did and it's INCREDIBLE. People to watch because they will be HUGE stars: Andy Whitfield, Erin Cummings, Viva Bianca - VERY impressed. I'm not mentioning Lucy because, well, it's a no brainer. Lucy is AWESOME in this (yes I am biased...big surprise!)

As I said in my reviews; there isn't a dud character or actor amongst them and that is a very rare thing indeed. Even the supporting characters are interesting!

and no, Starz is not paying me to say that <vbg>

Tune into Starz on 22 January and see if I'm right.



28 November 2009

Starz Spartacus S1 Ep 1 - The Red Serpent


Spartacus S1 Episode 1 The Red Serpent official episode page is now online with a promo pic of Spartacus with Sura.

At the moment that's all there is.

Click here to view



27 November 2009

New Official Character Photos Now Online


The official Spartacus site has new cast photos and this one is another Spartacus shot.

Check out the rest of the photos here!



26 November 2009

Spartacus Review by Chicago Now

Chicago Now has a review after seeing episodes 1 and 2

Shirtless Man of the Week: Andy Whitfield of 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand'
Chicago Now - 24 November 2009

Nothing gets my blood pumping like a good sword-and-sandals story--except maybe the shirtless dudes wearing the sandals and wielding the, um, swords. That's why Andy Whitfield of the upcoming "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" is my latest Shirtless Man of the Week. The Aussie plays the title character in Starz network's new original drama, which premieres on Jan. 22.

Read The Review



22 November 2009

Spartacus Blood and Sand Season 1, Episode 2 Review

Spartacus Blood and Sand Season 1 Episode 2 Review
Sacramentum Gladiatorum
by MaryD

"I burn for no cause but my own" ... Spartacus to Batiatus

Spartacus gets an introduction to life in the Ludus, we see more of Batatius and Lucretia, introduced to the rest of the Gladiators in the Ludus and away we go. Many thanks to Starz Entertainment for the chance to review this episode.

If I spoil this episode, lots and lots of people will be unhappy. I've been playing 'let's see how long I can go without seeing episode 2'. I've lasted two days. Not bad. Having just finished watching this episode I will make this prediction. There will be a great deal of artwork produced by fans from this show (and I'm not talking about naked people). The visuals in this show are incredible. The last time I had this creative reaction to a tv show was Xena.

I'm going to make another prediction - this will be a MEGA MONSTER HIT show. Guaranteed monster hit show. It has ALL the elements of a great show: great writing, excellent direction, wonderful characters, superb actors and a seriously good plot. Forget the media hype about the sex, nudity and voilence; yes you have those but they are secondary to the actual story. I am NOT surprised that Starz is thrilled with this series. Not surprised at all.

Now for the review...

I'm bowled over by Andy Whitfield and Erin Cummings yet again - those two have serious chemistry going. It's not that they have been paired together as husband and wife but their chemistry is AMAZING. Sparty is one very committed man (in more ways than one). The opening scene started off as if it was just another Sparty and Sura bonding moment but the effect of what it was is OUTSTANDING! I had another WOW moment. Loved it.

We have our first real extended look at the relationship between Batiatus and Lucretia - very very much equals. I described Batatius in the first episode review as appearing to be a weak man but isn't...that is most certainly the case here; he isn't.  I've come away feeling that Batatius is an extremely smart man who knows how to get the best out of Spartacus. VERY impressive.

The opening scene between Batatius and Lucretia has one of the funniest scenes I've seen between a husband and wife in a very very long time! It had me laughing; it was so well done. Batatius and Lucretia are going to be great characters to watch. This scene will get many many hearts aflutter (and other body parts). The first love/sex scene between Batatius and Lucretia.

At some point I'm going to have to start rating the love scenes because so far we've had quite a few. I give Batty & Lucretia a 7. Sparty & Sura get a 9.

I will make this statement just once...Lucy Lawless looks ABSOFRIGGILUTELY FABULOUS. There I said it. Moving on....

Alrighty I believe we've just had our first look at Kirk Douglas with the Gladiators...all I can say is it's about time because so far it's been the women that have been shown full frontal rather than the men. Equal opportunity nekkid. Enough about Kirk.

Introduction to the Gladiators:


Manu Bennett as Crixus

Crixus is the top gladiator at Batiatus' Ludus. He has a deep-seated dislike of Spartacus. Because of his status, he receives certain perks within the ludus including spending money and his own cell.

I have forgotten how much I enjoyed Manu's acting (last saw him as Antony in the Season 5 Xena episode Antony and Cleopatra). He comes across as such a strong character.


Antonio Te Maioha as Barca

A big, hulking brute of a man, he is more than just a successful gladiator, he is also Batiatus' body guard and hit man. His harsh nature is off-set by the tenderness he shows for his collection of birds and his love for Pietros, a slave boy.

What an interesting look at Barca. Even when seated and looking up at Spartacus he exudes power. wow. An interesting observation: whilst the rest of the Gladiators have very short haircuts...he's the only one with long hair. Fascinating.


Jai Courtney as Varro

A free man, he sold himself into Batiatus' Ludus to pay off his gambling debts and provide for his wife and child. A good fighter who follows orders, he is accepted easily by the other gladiators. Despite his success, he has a certain awe for Spartacus because he defeated four gladiators in the arena. He is Spartacus's only friend in the Ludus.

Varro is Spartacus' only friend in the Ludus; an interesting and very likable character.



Other Characters

Peter Mensah as  Doctore

Having been raised at the Ludus, he is Batiatus' most loyal and trusted slave. Once a highly celebrated gladiator and the only person to survive the Shadow of Death, Doctore now teaches others to fight. He is a hard man who spares no excess emotion. His only concern is for the welfare of those he trains. He dislikes Spartacus because he believes him to be a danger to those around him.

WARNING: Fan girl Moment #1

*sigh* <g> That's all I'm going to say about Doctore. *deep deep heavy sigh* Hehehe. I'm having a fan girl moment..just give me time..........okay I'm back...Memo to Rob: can I have a show with just Doctore  Please? Pretty Please? <g>


Nick E Tarabay as Asher

A former gladiator who now walks with a limp, he is the resident bookie. He takes odd on everything from who will survive initiation to who Batiatus should back in the pit fights. He is the man within the Ludus who can get something for everyone, but he is also the least liked or trusted

We first see Asher in the introduction to the Ludus with the newly arrived Gladiator newbies.



This episode serves to introduce the rest of the great characters this show will have in the next 11 episodes to go. This is going to be one heck of a good show to watch. As I mentioned in my first episode review - it has a plot, it has great characters that you will be emotionally invested in and I stand by that statement after seeing the second episode. I simply ADORE Spartacus (the character) and I'm interested in how he achieves his one true goal.

"I commit my flesh, my mind, my will, to the glory of this Ludus and to the commands of my master, Batatius. I swear to be burned, chained, beaten or die by the sword in the pursuit of honour in the arena." Spartacus to Batiatus

Roll on January!



20 November 2009

Spartacus Blood and Sand Season 1, Episode 1 Review

Spartacus Blood and Sand: Season 1 Episode 1
The Red Serpent Review

by MaryD

"If you go to war, you are destined for great and unfortunate things."  Sura to Spartacus

I'm writing this review (without spoilers) after watching the first Spartacus: Blood and Sand episode via Starz. Many thanks to Starz for giving me the opportunity.

Betrayed by his country. Beaten into slavery. Reborn as a warrior. Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a graphic and visceral account of Rome's most famous gladiator. When he's separated from the love of his life, Spartacus is forced into the gruesome and bloodthirsty arena, where a grisly death is primetime entertainment. Spartacus must fight for survival, befriend his enemies and play politics in this new world of corruption, violence, sex and fame. He'll be seduced by power and tormented by vengeance. But his passion will give him the strength to prevail over every obstacle, in this modern and uninhibited tale of death, honor and endurance.

Starring Australian actor, Andy Whitfield (McLeod's Daughters) as Spartacus, Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) as Lucretia, John Hannah (The Mummy, Four Weddings and A Funeral) as Batiatus and Peter Mensah (300, The Incredible Hulk) as Doctore, this unique mix of live action, graphic novel effects and brutal battle sequences is set to make Spartacus: Blood & Sand an epic television event.

All the media hype has been that Spartacus Blood and Sand had sex, violence, nudity, blood and more violence and did I mention the sex and nudity? Does it? Yes it does and I'll address those without any spoilers before going into detail about my thoughts on the various characters.

Yes there is BUT it's not there because someone wanted a sex scene. There is a purpose to the scene/s. It's relevant for the people and relevant for the time it is set. Simple as that. I actually thought it was very beautiful.

Oh yeah. Lots of that but I found myself seeing it in a way that was rather operatic than serious gore. There are moments when the MarySquick factor kicks in but that was soon gone to be replaced with caring about what happens to the gladiators; I found myself getting very emotionally attached to a couple including Spartacus which is rather interesting considering I just "met" them.

Oh yes indeedy. Similar with the violence, there is a context to it. Will it offend? More than likely because people will be offended if they want to be offended. I have a simple solution to this dilemma. Don't watch. Is the nudity graphic? Depends on your definition of graphic. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder or in this case, Nudity is the eye of the beholder. I found the nudity / sex to be on par with what has been shown on Australian TV. It didn't bother me all that much but then I'm a big girl and can handle watching some good looking nude people on television.

So that's the three main issues the media has been occupied with and since I've addressed those, I'll go on to much more interesting things like the actual show and the characters:

Andy Whitfield (Spartacus)

His character bio reads: A Thracian Soldier in the Roman Auxiliary who was taken prisoner. As punishment for defying Legate Claudius Glaber he was sentenced to die in the gladiator arena. Against all odds, he survived killing four gladiators. His sentence was commuted to slavery and he was bought by Batiatus to be trained as a gladiator in the Ludus. Andy as Spartacus is a revelation. I will admit to have doubts about the actor chosen as the fierce warrior Spartacus but after having watched the first episode, those fears evaporated in seconds. Andy Whitfield is PERFECT for the role. I was very impressed with the way he brought Spartacus to life. Spartacus' love for his wife is very evident and every decision he makes is to defend his village and get back to Sura.


Lucy Lawless (Lucretia).

The character bio reads: Batiatus' equal in every way, she sees every angle and manages situations with a steel grip inside a kid glove. Normally I wouldn't list Lucy as number two but in this case, Andy is the star of the show. For Lucy fans, Lucy is so right for this role. For Xena fans...there is a nod to Xena fans (well I perceived it as a nod but I could be wrong and reading it all wrong but what the heck it was fun). I do not want to give too much away but I do love watching Lucy's very expressive face. She can convey so much without uttering a word. Fascinating.


Erin Cummings (Sura)

Her character bio reads: Spartacus' wife and a Thracian priestess who foretells his life will bring great and unfortunate things. She is captured at the same time as Spartacus, but while he goes to Capua, she is raped by soldiers and sold into slavery. Erin as Sura is both soft hearted but can handle herself quite nicely; I did enjoy that aspect. There are no damsels in distress wall flowers in this story (so far). She is a very interesting character and her love for Spartacus is matched by his love for her. She utters the line that has been in the trailer: Destined for great but unfortunate things.


Viva Bianca (Illythia) as Glaber's wife Illythia.

Her character bio reads: The spoiled, selfish daughter of Senator Albinius, she is also the wife of Claudius Glaber. Young and impressionable, she finds herself alone and bored in Capua. Now this character is an absolute revelation. The one character I initially thought after reading the character info would be boring but she is anything but boring. VERY interesting. Watch this character...and the bio is a way off.


Craig Parker (Glaber)

His character bio reads: a Roman Legate who aims for great things, without the ability to achieve them. Though he loves his wife, he married her for the political advantage she provides. He blames Spartacus for his failed military campaign. Oh boy does he blame Sparty! There is no love for Spartacus and I felt sorry for Glaber for about a nanosecond.

It soon passed <g>


John Hannah (Batiatus) 

His character bio reads: The owner of the Ludus, he has fallen upon hard times financially. He bought Spartacus hoping to achieve greatness once again. In his wife Lucretia, he has found a true partner both emotionally and physically. They share a passionate marriage and desire for social advancement. There is very little Batiatus can or will deny her.  The pairing of John as Batiatus and Lucy as Lucretia is an interesting one. He comes across as a weak man which is rather fascinating but he isn't a weak man...


Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a show that will generate a lot of media hype because of the nudity and the violence but look beyond the hype and see what the show is about. Hope, survival, revenge, fear, hate and love; elements that make a great show. Yes there is nudity. Yes there is violence. But there is also a story.

There is a plot and a very good one, it has characters you will get emotionally invested in, one way or another. It has a great foundation. The visuals are AMAZING and there were a couple of moments where my WOW factor kicked in because they were so well done that I had to rewind and watch it again.

Overall I would say I thoroughly enjoyed the premiere episode and I'm looking forward to the series. Watch Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless, John Hannah and the rest of the cast of this new series. It's going to be worth it.

Discuss this review on AUSXIP Spartacus Chat forum



20 November 2009

Starz After Content From Canada, UK, Aust, NZ

TV films are still an important part of US cable's offering, despite the growth of series. Here key buyers tell Jules Grant what they are looking for. .

The telemovies and miniseries business has undergone a metamorphosis over the past few years. While US broadcast networks and major suppliers such as Alliance Atlantis, Saban, Hearst Corp and possibly Alchemy TV are out of the game, even specialised cable networks that once had film running through their veins, such as AMC (aka American Movie Classics) and IFC (Independent Film Channel), are opting for series....

Starz Entertainment

Liberty Media-owned premium cable broadcaster Starz Entertainment is after content for the 16 movie channels it operates, according to executive VP of programming Stephan Shelanski (left).

"We're still 95% films, or even higher," says Shelanski. "Movies are the backbone of all of our programming and the deals we have with the studios - whether for first-run product or older product - are very long-term, so we have thousands of movies under licence through the next 10 to 15 years."

The channel portfolio includes the flagship Starz and Encore brands with about 17.5 million and 31.5 million subscribers respectively.

Starz is on the hunt for all types of films to serve its genre channels. "We buy English-language films from all over the world, such as Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. We also license a decent number of foreign-language films that sit on our channel line-up," Shelanski says.

"In terms of viewership, the films that we get from the major studios have a clear advantage because there is so much marketing and PR behind those films. The indie and older films find their audience but don't perform as well, as there is less awareness.

"We look for suspense and action as well as art house and higher-end films from other nations. We have a channel called Cinema where we play our independent and art house films."

Shelanksi says that now Starz has the movie side locked up, the company wants to focus much more on original series. The films, which still out-perform series, are used to drive audiences to the series.

Starz has moved into original series such as Crash, a spin-off from the movie and now in its second season; Party Down, a second season of which is on its way; as well as comedy Head Case.

In January, Spartacus: Blood and Sand (above) will hit the network, featuring the graphic novel feel of Hollywood films such as 300 and Sin City. Gravity, coming up in spring 2010, meanwhile, follows the comic exploits of a group of eccentric out-patient suicide survivors and features a Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad), Ivan Sergei (Charmed, The Break Up) and Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction).

Read full article



15 November 2009

Spartacus Departacus - Sunday Star Times 15 Nov 09

Spartacus Departacus - Sexy swords and sandals epic winds up - but is Lucy's new show too hot for NZ TV to handle?-  Sunday Star Times 15 November 2009
Sexy swords and sandals epic winds up - but is Lucy's new show too hot for NZ TV to handle?

THE CAST and crew of big-budget American TV production Spartacus: Blood and Sand farewelled international stars John Hannah and Australian Viva Bianca last week at inner-city Auckland bar La Zeppa. The raunchy show has been courting controversy ever since it was revealed that strippers were cast as extras. Rumours are it features full-frontal nudity, orgies and naked battle scenes. Scheduled to screen in the US in January, there is no word on whether Kiwis will see the R-rated series dubbed "the boldest show on television".

Hannah, the Scottish actor best known for his roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Mummy movies, stars as as Batiatus, the husband of Lucy Lawless' character Lucretia

Read Full Article



13 November 2009

Spartacus To Get a Second Season!

Erin Cummings has posted on her Twitter account that Rob Tapert (unofficially) announced to the cast and crew that Spartacus will continue for a second season! That's excellent news! Only a couple more months till we see the start of Season 1. Starz must be overjoyed with the finished product to commit to a second season. Congratulations to Rob, the cast and the crew of Spartacus Blood and Sand.

"ErinLCummings: Cast/crew photo for Spartacus today in NZ-very emotional, especially when Rob (unofficially) announced that Spartacus will have a season 2!!"



11 November 2009

Spartacus Mention in Liberty Media Corp Earnings Call

Liberty Media Corporation Q3 2009 Earnings Call Transcript - there is a Spartacus mention. See below:

Our effort to generate awareness that Starz as a destination for originals as well as movies took the major step forward in the third quarter when we introduced the first trailers for Spartacus: Blood and Sand, first at Comic-Con and then at the television critics tour. The worldwide premier of the series took place in the first week of October at the annual MIPCOM television market in Cannes.

These initial unveilings of the series which will air on the Starz channels in January generated considerable buzz as viewers got a first look at some of the innovative techniques that producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert used to create the brutal in sensual world of the Roman gladiators. With the feel of movies such as the 300 and Sin City, a first-rate cast and a compelling stories Spartacus will be unlike anything ever before produced for television. We feel confident it will draw audiences to our channel, channels into other platforms worldwide. The latter is particularly important because this is the first dramatic series we've produced entirely ourselves and for which we are handling all syndication sales worldwide.


News submitted by Barbara Davies



2 November 2009

Rob Tapert Article - West Side Story

Canvas Magazine (the New Zealand Herald magazine supplement) had a great article about Rob and his contribution for the filming industry in Auckland. Check out the article which features mentions of Lucy, Xena, Legend of the Seeker and of course Spartacus Blood and Sand:

Canvas Magazine - 31 October 2009
West Side Story

While most Auckland businesses have spent the past year with the recession blues, the city's film production industry -- our so-called Westywood -- has been quietly prospering, partly thanks to the man who gave us Hercules and Xena. But, as GREG DIXON finds, the industry is short of space for future growth

IN SHOWBIZ, glamour is just another I special effect. On-screen and on the I red carpet, the business is one of alluring fantasies and luminous stars. Off-screen -- in, say, a warehouse in Auckland's drab, industrial suburb of Mt Wellington on a wet October I morning -- film and telly look much like factory work.

American TV producer Rob Tapert is walking me -- at speed -- through a soundstage converted from this particular warehouse, one where he's shooting parts of his latest TV fantasy series, the sword, sand and sex epic Spartacus. I am, apparently, the first New Zealand journalist to get this tour. And while I was grateful to Tapert -- the guy behind Hercules and Xena and husband of Lucy Lawless -- for bothering to make the time, it is, as one often finds on film and television sets, rather less fun than you imagine.

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