Starz's American Gods is having more behind the scenes problems, with season 2 showrunner Jesse Alexander having been "fired but not fired". Alexander was originally brought onboard to replace the series' creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, who left after season 1 over creative differences with Starz and Fremantle, the series' studio.
American Gods season 1 was heavily praised by critics for its dreamlike atmosphere and highly stylized visual aesthetic. The series, which is adapted from the 2001 book by Neil Gaiman, also went a reported $30 million over budget during its first season and was projected to cost even more to make in season 2, in order to realize Fuller and Green's creative vision. Starz and Fremantle ultimately balked at the idea and subsequently parted ways with the showrunners. Alexander was then brought aboard to oversee filming on season 2, which started back in April.
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It would seem that plan has backfired, with THR reporting that American Gods season 2 has become more expensive to complete than season 1 was, as the result of issues that include frequent rewrites (leading to clashes between cast members and the series' creatives). The show's production even went on a six week hiatus recently, reportedly to allow time for the season finale script to be fully completed. Before then, however, American Gods was already going through additional photography and reshoots, after Fremantle expressed dissatisfaction with how the rest of the season was shaping up.
While a representative for Alexander informed THR that the showrunner has not been technically fired from American Gods, another source for the site describes his status as "fired but not fired" and says he has been locked out of all ongoing production and post-production processes on the series. In his own statement to THR, Alexander assured that he and his crew are "working very hard" to make sure season 2 is up to snuff. Fremantle has also weighed in with its own assurance to fans:
"We stand by our network partner's statement and share in their confidence that season two will exceed expectations. Our cast and crew are extremely passionate about the show and have delivered something that remains loyal to the source material and true to the creative vision of Neil Gaiman. We think fans will feel the same when we share a first look at New York Comic-Con in a few weeks.”
Curiously enough, THR says that part of the reason Alexander has been sidelined is because he was taking American Gods in a "conventional" direction in season 2 - that is, one that hews closer to Gaiman's source material and away from the story changes, style and tone that Fuller and Green embraced in season 1. Gaiman is a producer on the series himself and previously said he would be helping to "plot and guide and build" season 2. However, since he's also serving as the showrunner on Amazon's adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett's novel Good Omens right now, it's unlikely the writer is all that actively involved in shaping American Gods' second season.
Whatever is going on with American Gods, it's worth mentioning that behind the scenes turmoil doesn't always mean the final result will turn out to be a mess. The show set the bar high with its first season and it sounds as though Alexander and his collaborators are making a real effort to reach that same level of quality with the second installment. Here's to hoping they ultimately do, after the dust has settled.
We will bring you more American Gods updates as they become available.