Starz Will Unchain 'Spartacus' For Small Screen

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Starz will give Spartacus a graphic novel look and style, when it launches the series next summer.

Continuing its foray into original series, Starz said that production on an adaptation of the Roman Empire warrior-slave legend will begin early next year, with 13 one-hour installments scheduled to premiere on the premium service in summer 2009.

Spartacus will be produced by Starz Media with executive producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen.

Steven S. DeKnight (Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) has been signed as head writer and show-runner of the series, which was developed by Raimi (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3 and Evil Dead), Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) and Donen (The Quick and the Dead). It will be produced in New Zealand by Starz Media’s Starz Productions.

Spartacus follows Crash as the second original drama series on Starz, and will mark the first produced in-house by the premium service’s studio sibling, headed by William Hamm, executive vice president, originals productions, who brought the project to the channel.

Starz Media will also produce Party Down for Starz, debuting in early 2009. These come on the heels of Starz’s original half-hour comedy series, Head Case, which stars Alexandra Wentworth and is currently in production on additional episodes, and Starz Inside, a monthly series of original specials examining people, trends and culture in entertainment, hosted by film critic Richard Roeper.

“When Spartacus debuts in the summer of 2009, it will give our subscribers a show unlike anything currently on TV: a fresh, high-energy action series with nothing held back,” said Stephan Shelanski, executive vice president, programming, for Starz Entertainment, in a statement. “We think it will be the destination show for next summer. It, along with our other original productions underscores our commitment to being a new kind of TV company, programming the biggest movies and the best new television series.”

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