Neil Gaiman Offers ‘American Gods’ TV Show Update; Teases New Story Material

Published 2 years ago by , Updated October 4th, 2013 at 7:43 am,

american gods hbo neil gaiman Neil Gaiman Offers American Gods TV Show Update; Teases New Story Material

Nearly two years have passed since we last had any substantial new information to share about HBO’s plans for an American Gods TV series, based on the multiple award-winning magical realism novel written by Neil Gaiman. The source material follows Shadow, a man who’s just been released from prison when he’s approached by a mysterious figure who calls himself Mr. Wednesday.

It turns out the latter is an incarnation of an Old God (Odin, to be exact – get it?), who Shadow accompanies while he travels across the modern United States. Along the way, the two met up with a number of Wednesday’s longtime acquaintances (like Anasi and Chernobog), in an attempt to rally the troops for a war against the new-age deities that’ve steadily begun to replace them over the past century (i.e. the “gods” of media, technology, drugs…).

Gaiman was a guest on Empire‘s podcast, where the celebrated writer discussed his upcoming book “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” and broached topics like filmmaker Terry Gilliam’s (The Zero Theorem) undying interest in making a Good Omens movie.

In addition, Gaiman provided the following status update on his script for the American Gods TV show pilot:

“That seems to be chugging along very, very well. I did the third draft script recently and I think the biggest problem [with the first draft] was completely my fault.”

The American Gods television show, last we heard, was being planned as a six-season story arc on HBO, featuring 10-12 episodes per season at an estimated cost of $40 million per season due to the relatively-large amount of CGI required (for comparison’s sake, each individual episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones may cost upwards of $6 million on average). Tom Hank’s Playtone Productions banner is reported to be backing the series, after having previously collaborated with HBO on such projects as The Pacific and the award-winning Sarah Palin movie Game Change.

american gods no six season deal yet Neil Gaiman Offers American Gods TV Show Update; Teases New Story Material

Interestingly, according to Gaiman, the reason his first script for the American Gods pilot caused problems was because of the new story material that the author had incorporated – which had not been present in his original novel – and how that deviated from the more purist adaptation that HBO executives had in mind:

“I wrote this first draft script that I loved. One of the reasons I loved it was because I go to do all this new stuff that wasn’t in the book. I got to open it up. Look, the book begins with Shadow in prison, about to get out of prison, so I opened the [pilot episode so] you got to see the bank robbery that went wrong, you got to see all the things that wound up with him in prison you got to see his entire three-year stretch in prison… you’re half an hour into this thing before he’s getting out of prison – stuff like that – and it was definitely the sort of awkward, embarrassed notes from HBO where they’re going ‘Um, can you make it more like the book?’”

He later admitted his personal motivation for adding so much new narrative substance to the American Gods pilot was because “I just love the idea of giving fans of the book stuff where they don’t know what’s going to happen.” However, the current script draft is closer to what HBO had in mind from the get-go, while still including some of the new stuff that Gaiman has cooked up specifically for the show:

“Draft 3 was me basically going ‘So here is the draft that’s an awful lot like the book’ and we’re throwing in a little more stuff just to put people up… I got a phone call the other day, it was ridiculously positive and [the show] seems to be happening… [I’ve been told] there are flashbacks, nothing is wasted, nothing is lost.”

Personally, I’m excited to see what new material Gaiman has added to the series, all the more so after his recent script work on the Doctor Who episodes “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Nightmare in Silver.” Here’s to hoping that we don’t go another two years before getting the next significant progress update for the American Gods TV show.


We’ll keep you posted on the American Gods TV series as more information is made available.

Source: Empire

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
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  1. One the most brilliantly written novels I’ve read. And I think that if Gaiman is so closely working with HBO, it could become thw same succes as GRRM working closely with them for GoT.
    And thank you for this update, as I’ve searched the Net up and down, but haven’t been able to find anything, except for what he supposedly said on book tours.

  2. Hopefully, this is finally coming together. I LOVED the novel and, almost as much, its “companion novel” .

    • Sigh…the companion being ANANSI BOYS…

  3. Yes, but any more words on a “Good Omens” movie?

    • Sorry but I think “Dogma” (Matt Damon and Batfleck) ruined the chance for this.

  4. Great book. I am glad it is on HBO and I hope they treat it with some integrity and don’t go all goofy like they did with True Blood.

  5. I really liked American Gods. Neverwhere was good too. Anansi Boys wasn’t bad….. Just ok. I didn’t hate it.

    • Neverwhere is my favorite of his, so far. My father just read his new one and said it tops everything he’s done.. Food for thought

      • I didn’t know he had a new one! Everything from him lately seems to be either children’s lit or short stories.

        Let me see……. hmmmm…

        Ah ha!

        The Ocean at the End of the Lane. A full length novel for adults!!

        I’m ordering it now.

  6. Hopefully, this is finally coming together. I LOVED the novel and, almost as much, its “companion novel” .

  7. please HBO let him do what he wants ive read the book twice and would love to see the bank robbery and how he spent his time and all the other stuff in the book like that

  8. Since this will be a TV show with multiple episodes and (possibily) multiple seasons, I guess it is a good move to dig into more details like Shadow’s background, his “normal” relationship with Laura before “things” start to happen, and, hopefully, Wednesday’s past will be explored too, especially his affair with Shadow’s mother.

    I will imagine that his novel can be a really massive film, especially the battle of the traditional vs. modern gods. Hopefully, if and when it is finally made, the series can deliver such massiveness.

    PS I would really love a Good Omen film too. Big fan of both Gaiman and Pratchett.

    • The thing is, HBO don’t want him to ‘deviate’ from the book. And that’s where they fell out. But, if you’re gonna make a single novel into a 6 season show (like making “The Hobbit” into a trilogy movie), the only way to do it is do what Neil was doing. There’s no other way.

      • Well no you’re being silly – NG already said the first series with be the book then it will grow organically from there, they will not be stringing one book into 6 seasons.
        Also that latest news is it is no longer with HBO.