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'Spartacus' series finale gains victorious ratings

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The unavoidably heartbreaking series finale of Starz’ Spartacus delivered one of the show’s best ratings ever.

Spartacus: War of the Damned finished its run with 1.4 million viewers for its Friday premiere telecast at 9 p.m. and totaled 2.7 million viewers for the full weekend (that’s just shy of the show’s Gods of the Arena premiere peak). Gratitude to Starz for a fearlessly entertaining drama. And ICYMI, here’s Dalton Ross’ interview with Sparty showrunner Steven S. DeKnight covering the finale.

This was good news for Starz’ new drama Da Vinci’s Demons, which got a strong lead-in and established a new all-time high for a Starz series premiere. A total of 1 million watched Demons on Friday at 10 p.m., and the fantasy drama series eventually racked up 2.1 million viewers for the weekend. Demons drew mixed-to-positive reviews from the critics.

Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight breaks down who survived and who died in the 'Spartacus' series finale and why

Would he live or die? That was the question heading into the series finale of Spartacus tonight. While history tells us the titular hero and his rebel forces were defeated by the might of Rome, some historians have claimed Spartacus’ body was never actually found, lending a glimmer of hope that the gladiator slave turned rebellion leader (originally played by the late Andy Whitfield and then by Liam McIntyre) might actually make it out of the series alive.

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InsideTV Podcast: Who is most likely to die on Sunday's 'Walking Dead' finale? Plus: We talk 'Spartacus' and 'Survivor'

Lori. T-Dog. Oscar. Axel. Merle. Lots of other people like Ben that we didn’t really care about. All of them bit the dust during season 3 of The Walking Dead. But there is one episode left, and with a big battle looming between Rick and The Governor, it seems a pretty safe bet that not everyone will be safe when all is said and done. On the latest edition of the InsideTV Podcast, Darren Franich and I place odds on who  might die on Sunday’s season finale. Will it be a member of the Greene family (specifically Hershel or Beth)? How about Andrea? Or —horror of all horrors — could it be little Judith Grimes? We talk about who is most likely to go…besides Martinez, of course, who we already have pegged as a goner. Sorry, dude.

The other big question surrounding the finale is whether the Governor will make it out alive. We offer our theories on what will happen to the eye-patch wearing baddie, and also offer up odds on who might be the one to kill him if he does, in fact, die. (Keep your eyes on Milton and Tyrese, people!) Listen in and see if you agree with our theories by clicking on the audio player icon below. READ FULL STORY

InsideTV Podcast: 'Spartacus' stars and creator discuss the bloody final season and violence on TV

Image Credit: Matt Klitscher/Starz

Image Credit: Matt Klitscher/Starz

Julius Caesar will be introduced tonight on Spartacus: War of the Damned, but before that happens, we decided to get the men behind both characters, Todd Lasance as Caesar and Liam McIntyre as Spartacus, in a room together and see if we could sort this all out peacefully. No such luck! That means the Rome vs. Rebellion battle will continue at 9pm on Starz as planned. But we did have a delightful chat with both men as well as Spartacus creator Steven S. DeKnight on the newest edition of the InsideTV Podcast as the three men talked about the decision to end the swords and sandals drama as well as what we can expect in the final season. (Did someone say…pirates?) They also promise a finale that will blow every other bonkers Spartacus finale away, and talk about what’s it like to film all those crazy sex scenes. (Turns out they’re not so sexy when 20 crew dudes are watching your every move.)

Of course, there’s also been a lot of discussion about violence in entertainment lately in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, and with Spartacus being the most violent show on television, I asked DeKnight for his take on the issue. He says the culprit is not entertainment, but rather the NRA. “The NRA has strong–armed Congress to make sure no research is ever done that could result in gun control,” says DeKnight. “Look at other countries. Look at Australia. They have the same TV, movies, video games. Look at the U.K., look at Japan. What’s the difference in all those countries is gun control. It’s that simple. I don’t think you have to be a genius to figure that out. And that’s not just me defending my profession. I think the moment you start saying you’ve got to curb art so someone doesn’t pick up a gun and shoot somebody, we’ve got a serious problem. I mean, call me crazy — I think the real answer is make sure somebody can’t pick up a gun.” READ FULL STORY

'Spartacus' returns to fewer damned viewers

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The final season of the sex-and-blood-drenched Starz drama Spartacus returned to a slightly smaller arena of viewers.

The premiere episode of the “War of the Damned” cycle of the show debuted Friday night to 930,000 viewers, a tally that rose to 2.5 million by the end of the weekend. That’s a solid performance, though a tad softer overall vs. previous years. The premiere weekend for the franchise’s Gods of the Arena prequel in 2011 had 2.8 million viewers and last year’s Spartacus: Vengeance had 2.7 million. (You might see stories out there saying Spartacus came back to its “second-highest rating ever.” That’s from a Starz press release touting a subscriber-universe “GRP” rating that’s normally only used internally at cable networks and not in media reporting).

Normally ratings for a final season of a series don’t matter too much. But in this case, Starz is weighing a spinoff centered on the Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance), who is introduced next week on the show. You can bet executives will closely follow how Spartacus performs this season — and whether Caesar seizes some fans of his own online.

'Spartacus: War of the Damned' premiere: Will Gannicus be the next gladiator leader? -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

The final season of Spartacus — slugged with the subtitle War of the Damned — doesn’t premiere until this Friday, Jan. 25, at 9 p.m. on Starz, but EW has a sneak peek of the first episode for you.

In the clip, we find Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) and Gannicus (Dustin Clare) having a meeting of the minds, but what’s really going down is that Spartacus is trying to convince Gannicus to take a leadership role in the gladiators’ fight against the ruling Romans. “A greater number, still, would follow you in battle,” Spartacus tells Gannicus, who seems extremely apprehensive at the proposition. Spartacus ends the clip by assuring Gannicus he isn’t leading the fight for vanity or deification: “Victory against the Romans is my only concern.” Click through to watch.

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'Spartacus' new final season trailer: Slash, scream, repeat!

Based on watching advance copies of the first two episodes of Spartacus: War of the Damned, the Starz franchise is coming back strong for its final season. Compelling new villains Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells) and — hey, why not? — a young Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance) are fun additions, while star Liam McIntyre seems more confident and comfortable in the lead role for his second time around. Here’s the show’s latest trailer that tosses aside most of the intrigue for some good ‘ol bloody hack-and-slash. Rarrr! READ FULL STORY

'Spartacus: War of the Damned' official poster

Hey Romans, you want your golden eagle back? Here you go! [Whack!]

Below is the official key art ad for the final season of Starz’ Spartacus: War of the Damned. In the final episodes, Sparty (Liam McIntyre) and his band of rebels face off against the Roman army, including new antagonists Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells) and a young Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance). The drama premieres Friday, Jan. 25.

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Stars from 'Walking Dead,' 'True Blood,' more take the stage at EW's Women Who Kick Ass Comic-Con panel

As a big supporter of strong women, Entertainment Weekly brought together some of entertainment’s most bad-ass females for a panel during San Diego Comic-Con. Moderated by EW’s Lynette Rice, the Women Who Kick Ass panel featured Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and the Beast, Smallville), Nikki Reed (Twilight, Breaking Dawn), Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead), Anna Torv (Fringe), Kristin Bauer van Straten (True Blood), and surprise guest Lucy Lawless (Spartacus) for a wide-ranging chat about stereotypes, the challenges that come with playing a tough woman, and…going to jail?! Read on for the highlights:

+ FREE LUCY Lawless, who was arrested in February after she and other activists protested aboard an oil-drilling ship in New Zealand, told the crowd that she’s not sure what will go down at her sentencing on Sept. 12, but admitted, “I am guilty — of trying to save the environment!” Massive cheers erupted. READ FULL STORY

'Spartacus' actress Lucy Lawless pleads guilty to trespass

Actress Lucy Lawless has pleaded guilty to trespass after she and other activists protested aboard an oil-drilling ship docked in New Zealand.

She is due to be sentenced in September and faces a maximum three years in jail. Prosecutors reduced a more serious charge of burglary.

Lawless, 44, a native New Zealander, is best known for her title role in the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess, and more recently for starring in the Starz cable television series Spartacus.

In February, she and five other Greenpeace environmental activists spent four days perched atop a 174-foot (53-meter) drilling tower on the Noble Discoverer in Port Taranaki in a protest against Arctic oil exploration. Eight activists pleaded guilty Thursday at the Auckland District Court.

Starz' 'Spartacus' to end next season

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After stabbing, slashing and pummeling countless enemies, Spartacus will slay his final Roman next year.

Starz is set to announce that the next season of its historical drama Spartacus will mark the show’s final outing.

The upside: Creator Steven S. DeKnight promises the remaining episodes will be spectacular (see the final season poster and teaser video here). “This season is bigger than anything we’ve attempted,” DeKnight says. “The scope and scale is just amazing. We’re dealing with massive battles between thousands of people. We hope to leave people feel satisfied.”

DeKnight says he’s been 90 percent certain for months that the upcoming third season — subtitled “War of the Damned” — would be the last for Spartacus. Creatively, the writer-producer assures that the timing will result in a strong tale. The historical foundation for the rebel leader’s journey, he says, lends itself to wrapping up the show sooner rather than later.

“Looking at the story in the history books, it’s wave after wave of Roman senators going after Spartacus who are defeated until [Roman general Marcus Crassus] comes in,” DeKnight says. “There’s only so many battles you can put a spin on. So let’s pick out the most interesting moments in this struggle and lay out a clear narrative for Spartacus and his rebellion. I wanted to lay out a strong forward narrative with a strong antagonist.” READ FULL STORY

'Spartacus' bloody final season ad: 'War of the Damned' -- EXCLUSIVE

Now this is a great final season title! The upcoming season of Spartacus will be the show’s last (details here), and EW.com has the final season poster. The first season was called “Blood and Sand,” the prequel was “Gods of the Arena” and Season 2 was “Vengeance.” This is the best subtitle of them all: “War of the Damned.”

Here’s the rather awesome-looking poster. You can bet Game of Thrones fans will compare this to the HBO hit’s season 2 poster (both have a hand gripping a gold object against a black background with a war-themed red tagline). Regardless of what you think of the comparison, Spartacus drawing the gaze of Thrones‘ legion of fans could help boost interest in the show’s final season.

Here is what I’m assuming is a rebel’s hand clenching the Roman army’s gold eagle standard, which is covered in blood. Did Spartacus bludgeon some soldiers with their own standard?  READ FULL STORY

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