American Gods Has A New TV Home

Someone else has optioned Neil Gaiman's book

Neil Gaiman American Gods book cover

Like the deities at its core, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is one of those stories that Hollywood believes in for a while before lapsing into agnosticism, only to return to the fold when someone new tries to make it incarnate in some other form of media. As teased by Gaiman in his journal last week, FreemantleMedia North America is the latest visitor to the temple, picking up the rights and bringing in the writer himself to executive produce.

Gaiman's novel, first published in 2001, and again in an expanded edition in 2005, involves old gods and mythological creatures from various Old World pantheons (Low Key Lyesmith, Mr. Nancy, Mr. Jacquel), brought to the US by the immigrants who founded it. But their powers are waning as people's beliefs shift to modern woships like media and technology. When our hero, Shadow, is released from prison, he takes up with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday on an odyssey across America recruiting old gods for a war against the new.

During the journey, Shadow learns some interesting facts about his heritage, and faces down a child-killer. Characters from Sandman crop up occasionally, and the whole thing feels like a tour through forgotten corners of Americana as well as the mythology of, well, the entire world. The novel's companion piece Anansi Boys came out in 2005, and a follow-up story, Monarch Of The Glen, is in Gaiman's Fragile Things collection.

The previous attempt to turn the book into something for screens was in 2011, when Gaiman hinted that someone had the rights and was developing it. Then, a month later, the news broke that HBO and Tom Hanks’ Playtone company had snagged the option, with Gaiman at work on a pilot script. Sadly – given that the premium cable channels across the pond, with their bigger budgets, looser rating restrictions and more relaxed attitude to ratings feel like the natural home for a big Gaiman story – the series never went ahead.

FreemantleMedia doesn’t yet have a network attached, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens. American Gods is no easy story to adapt, so don’t hold your breath just yet. But in a world where shows like Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural and Doctor Who flourish, there really should be a place for this. For more on American Gods, check out our Neil Gaiman Podcast Special below.

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