Show gets renewal before first season begins

Even before the first sword has been raised, Starz has given freshman series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” a second-season renewal.

Season one launches Jan. 22, and production on season two will begin in first quarter 2010 in New Zealand. Thirteen episodes have been ordered.

Stephan Shelanski, exec VP of programming, told Daily Variety that the early pickup was meant to alert the TV community that Starz is committed to producing original dramas and to give the actors and writers plenty of time to prepare for a second season.There was no downside to waiting longer, but we wanted to make the announcement now as a vote of confidence and to say how much we believe in the show,” he said.

Starz already has a title for season two — “Spartacus: Vengeance” — and skein marks the second original drama in the cabler’s lineup. “Crash,” co-produced with Lionsgate, just finished its second season last Friday but with ratings diminished from season one. No decision has been made on whether a third season will be ordered.

Spartacus,” produced by Starz Media, stars Australian newcomer Andy Whitfield as the title character, as well as Lucy Lawless, John Hannah and Peter Mensah. Exec producers are Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen and showrunner Steven S. DeKnight.

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