While he's said that he has little desire to directly run a show as he has for the last couple of years with the incoming Good Omens adaptation, Neil Gaiman certainly appears ready to stay involved with small screen work. He's now on board to develop a new version of The Jim Henson Company's fantasy anthology series The Storyteller.
Henson was inspired to create the original 1980s show by his daughter Lisa's university studies of folklore and mythology. The result was a series that re-told European folk tales, anchored by a mysterious storyteller played by John Hurt. Henson directed several episodes, with Anthony Minghella providing the scripts and the Henson Creature Shop cooking up a variety of beasts and other characters.
Gaiman, who has his own grounding in folklore, feels like the right fit to write the show, even if he won't take as much of the day to day production work on. "Part of what fascinates me about The Storyteller is the stuff that we don’t know," he says in a statement. "Who was the Storyteller, why was he telling these stories, was he a goblin, what kind of creature? What I’d love to do is an inside story that’s as long as the outside story. We’re going to find out a lot about who the storyteller is, we’re going to find out things we don’t even know that we don’t know. We’re going to begin in a Northern kingdom where stories are forbidden and where the act of telling a story is liable and can get you imprisoned or executed. If you put a storyteller into that situation, things would need to start getting interactive."
Lisa Henson, who runs her father's company, will also be closely involved. "The Storyteller has always been a special project for me, having worked so closely with my dad on the original concept," she says. "Neil Gaiman is an expert in traditional folklore and mythology, in addition to himself being the modern ‘storyteller’ for our times. I feel like if Neil were an actor, he’d have to play (the Storyteller) because he embodies what the storyteller is, a skillful wordsmith who can entertain people with the power of the story itself, and not to mention he also memorizes it all in his head." You can read more from Gaiman and Henson at Deadline.
The plan is to find a new Storyteller (given Hurt's death in 2017) and involve castmembers from the original series to spin some fresh yarns with new creatures. Freemantle, which already produces American Gods drawn from Gaiman's work (with his involvement) is backing this one and will be looking for the right home to land the show – we'd guess one of the streaming services, especially given Gaiman's recent deal with Amazon following Omens.
American Gods returns to screens in March, with Good Omens due on Amazon on 31 May.
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