Development on the Sandman TV series may have temporarily stalled, but work on a hitherto unknown film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods is, according to the author, finally underway.
Gaiman spills very few beans in his interview with Digital Spy, but reveals that the rights to his weightiest novel to date were sold a week or so ago. To whom? That's the question. All Gaiman will hint at is that it's a director who is also a cinematographer, "who has many, many Oscars and who I think is a genius." Not so impressive that Gaiman didn't need persuading though. He says he's been talking to the interested party for some time before being eventually convinced to give him the rights. But "I love the fact that he fell in love with the book about six or seven years ago and has not given up and just kept coming back and coming back."
Gaiman's novel, first published in 2001, and again in an expanded edition in 2005, involves old gods and mythological creatures from various pantheons (Low Key Lyesmith, Mr Nancy, Mr Jacquel), brought to the US by the immigrants that founded it, but whose powers are waning as people's beliefs shift to modern horrors like media and technology. When (ahem) 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. 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.
Gaiman will be meeting with the newly anointed rights-holders in LA shortly, to "see what he can do to help". But, speculating hats on, who's he meeting with? Neil Jordan is a good fit for Gaiman's universe, but he's already involved with The Graveyard Book, and only has the one Oscar. Ridley Scott doesn't have any. James Cameron seems unlikely. Ron Howard is somewhat busy with The Dark Tower. Ditto Peter Jackson with The Hobbit. An Oliver Stone American Gods would be something to behold, but would you call him a cinematographer? Steven Soderbergh is retiring from filmmaking. We can't imagine Steven Spielberg would have taken seven years to convince Gaiman. Clint Eastwood? Nah. Danny Boyle? Hmm, Danny Boyle... Now if we were talking multiple Oscars for single films, and including nominations...
We could say names all day though and not get anywhere near the truth. It's out there, and we'll have it as soon as it's revealed, but in the meantime, give us your thoughts below. Who fits the description, and who'd fit the material?
Incidentally, we've just discovered that if you type "multi oscar director" into Google, the first name you get is William Friedkin. Somebody call Mark Kermode!