As you may or may not be aware, we at SciFi Mafia are somewhat hesitant to post news about shows in development, or even picked up to pilot. That’s because we are wary of heartbreak. So many pilots never make it to series, and an even smaller percentage of series in development make it any further.
Nevertheless, there are times when we just gotta tell you. This is one of them, confirmed by the man himself: FreemantleMedia North America (The Tomorrow People, The Returned) has picked up the rights to develop our beloved Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods novel to series.
A few people have asked for more background on this: HBO had an option on American Gods for several years. It went through three different pilot scripts. HBO has a limited number of slots and, after a while, passed it to Cinemax, who are in the HBO family, who decided eventually they didn’t want to do it, and the option expired, which unfortunately meant we couldn’t work with Tom Hanks‘ production company Playtone any longer, as they are exclusive to HBO. However, Stefanie Berk, who had been one of the brightest stars at Playtone, had recently moved to Freemantle, and was as determined as she had been when she was at Playtone to bring American Gods to the screen. And I was impressed by her determination.
Nothing else has been set yet, but it’s nevertheless great news:
As to where you will be able to see it, who is going to be in it, who will be writing or show-running, none of these things have yet been settled. But it already looks like it’s going to be a smoother run developing it than it had at HBO, so I am very pleased.
Gaiman further announced that his novel Anansi Boys is going to be made into a TV miniseries by UK production company RED for the BBC. Unfortunately, he said nothing about plans for that to be broadcast here, but we live in hope.
And here are what may be the three most important aspects of this news, to those who love the books:
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.
First, hooray that he’s thrilled, that’s what we want for our beloved authors. Second, Anansi Boys is expected to be a faithful adaptation. Third, “open up American Gods into something bigger than the book.” Bigger than that epic book? Perhaps because it’s going to be a continuing series? We shall see, but thanks for the head’s up, Mr. Gaiman.
Here’s the press release from FreemantleMedia North America, for those who like all the details, and/or those who aren’t familiar with American Gods, one of my favorite books ever:
FremantleMedia North America finalizes deal for Neil Gaiman’s novel, “American Gods”
FremantleMedia North America has finalized a deal for the rights to Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed urban fantasy novel American Gods, it was announced today by Thom Beers, CEO, FremantleMedia North America.
The 2001 novel has been translated into over 30 languages and earned numerous accolades including Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards for Best Novel. Gaiman, the creator of the celebrated Sandman comic series, and the author of bestselling novels The Graveyard Book, Coraline and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, will Executive Produce the series along with FremantleMedia. Gaiman was represented in the deal by Jon Levin at CAA on behalf of literary agent Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House.
The plot posits a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission togather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
The acquisition of American Gods reflects the recent ramp-up in development activity by FremantleMedia North America’s scripted television division, most recently seen in the sale of the US adaptation of the hit French format “The Returned,” currently in development at A&E, Carl Hiaasen’s novel “Basket Case” in development at Spike with Rob Reiner attached and “The Tomorrow People,” picked up for a back-nine order by The CW. The succession of scripted projects follows the appointment of Craig Cegielski, Executive Vice President, Scripted Programming and Development, and Stefanie Berk, Senior Executive Vice President, Scripted Programming and Development in June of 2013.
We’ll keep you posted, hopefully with nothing but good news, about these projects.