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old gods do new jobs

American Gods Strides Out of Development Hell, Good Omens Staring Wistfully After It

Two items for fans of Neil Gaiman stories about anthropomorphic personifications: Good Omens is not yet completely lost, and American Gods has a new production studio and looks to be getting a new lease on televised life.

Three months ago author Neil Gaiman confirmed that an adaptation of his best selling novel American Gods was no longer in development at HBO, because, in my educated opinion, HBO momentarily decided it was allergic to money. Or maybe it had balked at the idea of a special effects heavy miniseries that represented (a supernatural, granted) America through the eyes of a biracial main character?

Well, anyway, the torch has been picked up by FreemantleMedia, a European production company most known for producing a variety of the biggest programs in reality television (Project Runway, X Factor, the various international Idol programs), but their most recent well known success in scripted television would probably be Merlin. According to Deadline, Gaiman will executive produce the adaptation, and with him holding full rights over his own novel, I imagine that we will definitely be seeing the racially diverse cast of the book realized on screen.

Another Gaiman project, however, is still languishing in the Doldrums of development hell, with the barest mention keeping it from being consigned to the “not currently happening” box. Terry Gilliam is still pushing a Good Omens adaptation around for producers and studios. But he has one ray of comfort for fans: if he can’t get it made as a movie, he’s open to doing it as a miniseries. He told Indiewire:

I did talk to Terry Pratchett’s people and to Neil about getting it going again. I thought it might be perfect thing for maybe six-part TV, because then we could do the whole book. I mean, we had to make the [book’s subplot about the] Four Horsemen into something much more condensed.

A miniseries would indeed probably be the most enjoyable format for fans, and possibly new fans: as a collaboration between Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, there’s a lot of detail and small jokes in the book that would be a pity to lose.

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  • Anonymous

    I adore American Gods, but I can’t imagine it translating well to screen. It’s very low on action. It’s pensive, and much of what you see on the page is cerebral and intangible.

  • Skemono

    Also Anansi Boys has been picked up for a miniseries:

    Other TV news also came to fruition today, although I do not have anywhere to link you to, so you will have to take my word for it: Anansi Boys is going to be made into a TV miniseries in the UK, by RED, for the BBC.

    Yes, I’m really thrilled about both of these things. Freemantle has the harder task, as they are going to have to open up American Gods into something bigger than the book.

    Red are just going to have to make an absolutely brilliant faithful version of Anansi Boys.

  • Lady Commentariat

    I’m cautiously excited. I love American Gods–it’s easily my favorite Gaiman novel–but I think it would be really easy to screw it up.

  • Anonymous

    With Gaiman as an executive producer, I have hope for the adaptation.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Plus, a lot of its fortes are in the language – the spoilery name pun, the change of tone between Shadow’s parts and the Coming to America chapters, the way Shadow is lives up to his name by being ever present but mostly silent even though we’re seeing his POV…

  • Commissar Ahmad

    That’s just not fair. Good Omens is an excellent book with lots of great imagery that would translate well to the screen. American Gods… isn’t.

  • aerinha23

    They’d have to be willing to take some risks, but I think it could work well if the creators aimed for something with the tone of “Ink,” for example. But “Ink” was an indie film and could get away with it. If they aren’t willing or if they’re tied to Major Financial Expectations, you’re right, it’s going to be a challenge to adapt.

  • Vetinari

    I’m not so sure. Pratchett can be rather hard to translate to screen, with all his signature asides and footnotes and lengthy but humorous digressions. The various Sky adaptations of some of his books weren’t necessarily bad, but you couldn’t help but feel like a lot was missing.

  • Vetinari

    I’m not so sure. Pratchett can be rather hard to translate to screen, with all his signature asides and footnotes and lengthy but humorous digressions. The various Sky adaptations of some of his books weren’t necessarily bad, but you couldn’t help but feel like a lot was missing.

  • kinoumenthe

    I love that post title.
    High five, Suzana.

    …(I did read the article, not just the title)

  • Sarah

    If they make Shadow white…. well at least I know Gaiman would put his foot.

  • ohheylisa

    I think with American Gods you don’t have to make it the same narrative as the book. There are so many different rich characters that you could change your focus or plot line every episode (although I do love Shadow as the quiet hero/audience perspective). Not to mention you could begin every episode with one of the mini-stories that show the people that first brought their god/gods to America, which was one of the most intriguing parts of the book.

  • Anonymous

    Anansi Boys seems like it’ll translate so much better. Let’s hope that the also-mentioned mini-series of that lives up to the book.

  • Anonymous

    Are you the man with the lime?

  • Christopher LaHaise

    I really think American Gods would have been an excellent miniseries for TV. I could see it being covered in perhaps two seasons.

  • Charlie

    They should get Mark Sheppard to play Crowley and make the internet explode

  • Anonymous

    But if they did that, they’d have to put Black People on screen. Just think how awful that would be

  • Heather Louise Kincaid

    Idris Elba needs to be in this.