Vulture has learned that Starz is developing a six-episode miniseries prequel to its freshman hit, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, in order to keep the series’ momentum after its star, Andy Whitfield, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a month ago and production on a second season was indefinitely postponed. The series (the finale of which airs next week) has been Starz’s first original-series hit, averaging a million viewers each week; the network green-lighted season 2 a month before it even premiered, but now, with Whitfield in treatment, Starz finds itself with empty sets, actors, producers, and writers very expensively standing by. A prequel (Gladiator Babies, perhaps?) would keep the sets and creative staff productive, while holding on to the original show’s fans. Network execs are now in Cannes at the annual MIP TV international programming marketplace, looking at other options, but this spin-off is looking like a tempting bet to fill their January hole. More as this story develops.