Former Xena: Warrior Princess star Lucy Lawless has been cast in the new action series Spartacus: Blood and Sand as Lucretia, who with her husband Batiatus own a gladiator camp called the Ludus. The 13-episode series has begun shooting in Auckland. Xena producers Rob Tapert, Lawless’ husband, and Sam Raimi, along with Joshua Donen, are executive producing the series. Tapert says the show is for US cable network Starz Entertainment. New Zealand actor Manu Bennett takes the supporting lead role as an offsider of the rebel slave leader, Spartacus. Each episode is expected to cost about $3.5 million. Spartacus was inspired by the real-life Roman slave who in 73BC led a revolt that grew to more than 120,000 fighters, but Starz said the story will be “re-imagined” for a generation of TV viewers raised on graphic novels and cutting-edge production technology.