HBO Exec Talks Game of Thrones, Why Their American Gods Show Failed
We could have had it alllllllll.
Susana proposes that the reason HBO’s series based on Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods never materialized is that they would’ve had to bring a mixed-race lead character to their lineup. I disagree. They just would’ve made Shadow a white dude.
To play a bit of catch-up: HBO optioned American Gods for a TV series back in 2011, and for a few short months things looked good. Tom Hanks‘s production company threw money at it, and we learned that later seasons of the show would actually cover post-book material. Only then, well… you’ll notice a distinct lack of an American Gods show. Why’d you let the option expire, HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo?:
“I think we’re all huge fans of the book, and I think the script just didn’t — we couldn’t craft the script as good as we needed it to be. I think we knew going in that it would be a challenge; every good book is a challenge to adapt it and find the level you need for it. The bar is high now for great dramas. And to find that bar — we tried. So it was a huge disappointment… We tried three different writers, we put a lot of effort into it. Some things just don’t happen. We have to trust at the end of the day, if you don’t have a star with a great script, you’re just not going to go through with it.”
“Even though we love the book, we love the idea, we love the hope of what it could be, we just couldn’t get it right,” he continued. Fair enough. I’d rather see no adaptation than a piss-poor one. And we might not even be in the no-adaptation zone: After the HBO deal fell apart FremantleMedia swooped in for the rights, though no network has yet staked its claim. Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, meanwhile, is being developed as a miniseries for the BBC.
Lombardo was also asked about Game of Thrones, specifically whether the show will be impacted in any way by George R.R. Martin‘s admission that he doesn’t really know how many books he’s writing. As a Game of Thrones fan, Lombardo is “delighted beyond comprehension.” As an executive for a TV show that’s getting ever closer to catching up to its source material… he’s not bothered, because Game of Thrones was already such a huge undertaking anyway:
“There’s so many stories left to tell, I just hope [showrunners] Dan [B. Weiss] and David [Benioff] are still game. It’s a little bit of a personal challenge I don’t think they contemplated when we initially found our location in Belfast, what that meant for them personally … Belfast is not the most cosmopolitan of cities to spend half of the year.”
He also chimed in on MaddAddam, the Margaret Atwood trilogy that Darren Aronofsky is adapting. Though really all he said was “It’s a long way off.” How long? “Some scripts come in, within months they’re ready to shoot; others take two years before you find the right — so at this point, we’re looking for the right writer. I’m excited about it.”