American Gods television series coming to Starz

American Gods television series coming to Starz
Tony Nelson

Last month, HBO's president of programming Michael Lombardo revealed why the network couldn't pick up the small-screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods (more on that in a moment). This week, an announcement has been made that the series has found a place to nest.

See also: The dark night returns for Neil Gaiman [Cover Story]

Back in February, it was announced that FremantleMedia would take the reigns on the show rather than Tom Hanks's production company Playtone, which has an exclusive contract with HBO and had been in talks to bring American Gods to the screen for quite some time.

"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," HBO's Lombardo told Vulture earlier last month.

Well, Mercury is finally out of retrograde, and it's time for some good, celestial news: Starz is picking up the American Gods television series.

In a July 1 press release executives proclaim that "American Gods is a project that deserves to be made." Do we detect a thinly veiled dig at HBO? Maybe. But Starz is holding the cards now, and they've got some ace writers on board for the series.

Bryan Fuller and Michael Green will pen the pilot and act as showrunners on the series while also joining Gaiman as executive producers. Fuller is known for his work on Hannibal and Pushing Daisies while Green has worked on The River and Kings. Both were also part of the team that brought Heroes to NBC.

What does this mean for American Gods? Well, with both showrunners accustomed to diving into semi-realistic, semi-fantastic worlds on television (see: Pushing Daisies and Heroes), we hope they'll be able to recreate that believable-yet-magical atmosphere again for Gaiman's story. Plus, Fuller's already worked on Hannibal, another book-to-television series, so that doesn't hurt.

"Neil Gaiman has created the holiest of holy toy boxes with American Gods and filled it with all manner of magical thing, born of new gods and old," said Fuller in a press release. "Michael Green and I are thrilled to crack this toy box wide open and unleash the fantastical titans of heaven and earth and Neil's vividly prolific imagination."

In Gaiman's 2001 novel, old gods brought over to the United States by centuries-worth of immigrants are pitted against the new gods on the block, the technological corps. Imagine wizened ancient folks versus snotty millennial upstarts (not that hard to imagine, right?), sprinkle in some magic, and you've got the general gist of the rivalry between the deities. Caught in the middle of the brewing storm between the gods is an ex-con named Shadow, taken under the wing of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. The pair road trip around the United States, rallying the troops and learning how to survive some harsh Midwestern winters.

Gaiman posted the news on Facebook yesterday, including his thoughts on the future collaboration between Fuller, Green, and himself from Starz's press release:

Commented Gaimain, "When you create something like American Gods, which attracts fans and obsessives and people who tattoo quotes from it on themselves or each other, and who all, tattooed or not, just care about it deeply, it's really important to pick your team carefully: you don't want to let the fans down, or the people who care and have been casting it online since the dawn of recorded history. What I love most about the team who I trust to take it out to the world, is that they are the same kind of fanatics that American Gods has attracted since the start. I haven't actually checked Bryan Fuller or Michael Green for quote tattoos, but I would not be surprised if they have them. The people at Fremantle are the kinds of people who have copies of American Gods in the bottom of their backpacks after going around the world, and who press them on their friends. And the team at Starz have been quite certain that they wanted to give Shadow, Wednesday and Laura a home since they first heard that the book was out there. I can't wait to see what they do to bring the story to the widest possible audience able to cope with it." (I cannot believe they put what I wrote in the press release. Normally someone rewrites it into Press Release Speak and then I have to explain to people that, no, I didn't actually say that at all. Not this time.)

The network's choice to actually share Gaiman's words so fully -- even in this press release -- probably bodes well for the show itself.

However, don't look for the series to stream on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Instant Video anytime soon after its release. Starz owns all the network pay TV and SVOD (subscription video on demand) rights to the show. Gaiman fans, you might want to make the appropriate offering to the cable gods and pony up a little cash if you want to keep up with the show each week à la HBO's powerhouse book-to-tv-show staple Game of Thrones.

There's still no word yet on when the program will debut on Starz, nor when filming will start. But that means you've got ample time to start trucking through the book itself. With source material this rich, you're going to want to pick this up, be it for the first time, or again before it hits the small screen.

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