Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods is being developed as a television series by Starz. They announced that Bryan Fuller who is currently delighting audiences with his NBC cult hit show Hannibal and created critically and fan praised shows like Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies along with Michael Green Who has worked on such fan favorite shows like Smallville, Heroes and Cupid are writing the pilot script and serving as show runners for the series. This overall is very interesting news considering that American Gods was originally being developed by HBO. This is the third genre series that was at HBO the first two were Walking Dead and Preacher. I’m sure that someone is still kicking themselves for letting The Walking Dead get away. Preacher is being developed by Sony and AMC.
(Photo of Bryan Fuller & Kristin Chenoweth courtesy of Bryan Fuller)
For those who are not familiar with the novel here is the plot, (Spoiler Alert if you have not read the novel)
Shadow has spent the last three years in prison, biding his time, teaching himself coin tricks. He is waiting to be reunited with his beloved wife Laura, and planning to settle back into his old life working for his best friend Robbie. But Shadow’s life is soon to change forever: he receives the news that he is being let out of prison early, but his wife Laura has died in a tragic car accident.
Travelling back to Eagle Point to attend his wife’s funeral, Shadow meets the enigmatic Mr Wednesday who is keen to offer Shadow a job. Despite Shadow’s initial reluctance Mr Wednesday, displaying uncanny and supernatural abilities, pursues him and eventually persuades him to accept the job: he is to transport Wednesday about the country, run errands for him and protect him from any potential dangers.
As Shadow unwittingly seals their bargain by drinking three rounds of mead, he is swept up in an adventure with Wednesday, a self-proclaimed hustler and Old God, the incarnation of the Norse All-Father Odin. Wednesday is on a mission to recruit other Old Gods for what he sees as the inevitable war brewing between the Old Gods and the New Gods.
These New Gods of television, radio, the internet, credit cards and various other facets of modern culture, hate the Old Gods and systematically hunt them down one by one. But Wednesday has a plan involving all the Old Gods from ancient pantheon’s, brought to America through the belief of immigrants travelling to the New Land hundreds of years ago: he wants them to unite in one desperate last stand. But finding these often forgotten Gods, whose power has diminished over the ages, is no easy task; persuading them to join Wednesday’s cause is harder still.
Shadow and Wednesday set out on an epic road trip, taking in roadside attractions which Wednesday claims are great sources of power, and meeting Old Gods, culture heroes, leprechaun’s, dwarves, genies and gorgon’s from a multitude of pantheon’s. All the time they are fighting to stay ahead of the powerful New Gods, who have all of modern technology and belief on their side. And Shadow is searching for a way to bring his wife Laura back to life; she is not quite as dead as she should be.
Shadow’s odyssey will also uncover the secrets of his own mysterious past, as he learns how to take gold from the sun’s hoard, is granted the freedom of the moon, finally learns the identity of his father, and finds and loses his true name. His ultimate sacrifice on the World Tree reveals facts long disguised to him as he walks the path of Hard Truths and learns to be truly alive.
Gaiman is best known for his award-winning writing of the DC Comics/Vertigo series The Sandman that was the series that garnered many new readers that had never read comics before. He is currently writing a new Sandman series. He also wrote later issues of Miracleman for Eclipse Comics back in the early 1990’s that was never finished and is being reprinted by Marvel Comics and Gaiman along with original artist Mark Buckingham (of Fables fame) will finish the story that they started over 20 years ago. Gaiman has also written many novels including two that have been adapted to feature films Stardust directed by X-Men First Class and Kick Ass Matthew Vaughn that was an illustrated novel with artist Charles Vess and Coraline the wonderful stop motion animated film adapted and directed by Henry Selick of Nightmare Before Christmas fame.
In a press release from Starz:
Starz Managing Director Carmi Zlotnik said, “‘American Gods’ is a project that deserves to be made. With our partners at FremantleMedia and with Bryan, Michael and Neil, we believe we can create a series that honors the book and does right by the fans and viewers.”
Commented Neil Gaiman, “When you create something like ‘American Gods,’ which attracts fans and obsessives and people who tattoo quotes from it on themselves or each other, and who all, tattooed or not, just care about it deeply, it’s really important to pick your team carefully: you don’t want to let the fans down, or the people who care and have been casting it online since the dawn of recorded history. What I love most about the team who I trust to take it out to the world, is that they are the same kind of fanatics that ’American Gods’ has attracted since the start. I haven’t actually checked Bryan Fuller or Michael Green for quote tattoos, but I would not be surprised if they have them. The people at Fremantle are the kinds of people who have copies of ‘American Gods in the bottom of their backpacks after going around the world, and who press them on their friends. And the team at Starz have been quite certain that they wanted to give Shadow, Wednesday and Laura a home since they first heard that the book was out there.I can’t wait to see what they do to bring the story to the widest possible audience able to cope with it.”
Thom Beers, CEO, FremantleMedia North America said, “’Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ is pure genius and we couldn’t be more thrilled to bring this classic to life on-screen. Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk have put together a dream team with Fuller and Green joining Gaiman on this amazing journey. Coupled with Starz’ shared passion for this project, we’re confident this combination will raise the bar for drama.”
Commented Bryan Fuller, “Neil Gaiman has created the holiest of holy toy boxes with ‘American Gods’ and filled it with all manner of magical thing, born of new gods and old. Michael Green and I are thrilled to crack this toy box wide open and unleash the fantastical titans of heaven and earth and Neil’s vividly prolific imagination.”
I’m guessing that while both Fuller and Green are the show runners with Fullers current full-time commitment to Hannibal that Green will be the more hands on show runner with Fuller in a more overseeing position. The bigger question for the show is Starz going to be able to give the show. It’s probably not going to have the big budget finale in the book of the battle of the New Gods vs the Old Gods but may more focus on the journey of Shadow and he will met different God’s on his travels. But again this is only a guess. I have reached out to Bryan for more information about the show but at press time but because of his busy schedule he was unable to comment further. Hopefully I will be able to update the story further in the future.