Neil Gaiman’s American Gods Finds a Home at Starz

Cable net goes script-to-series with FremantleMedia adaptation

It's been rumored for years and now coming to pass: Neil Gaiman's beloved fantasy novel American Gods has a network ready to develop a long-rumored TV adaptation. The deal, initially, is for a pilot script; if Starz picks up the script, it will go straight to series with no intermediary pilot production stage.

HBO took a pass on adapting the complex book last month; now the show is headed to independent premium network Starz, which has had a hit recently with Michael Bay-produced pirate drama Black Sails and managed a brief Renaissance a few years ago shortly after the installation of CEO Chris Albrecht, who had the foresight to put several of the network's flagship shows—notably ancient war drama Spartacus—on Netflix. No dates were announced; the script-to-series deal is a commitment to develop the show but not yet a full series; still, it's much closer than the show has ever been to an airdate.

FremantleMedia picked up the rights to the series in February, but no network was attached. Michael Lombardo of HBO confirmed to Vulture in June that the network where the series eventually landed wouldn't be his.

Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller will write the pilot for Starz with Michael Green, who is used to tricky adaptations. He created NBC drama Kings, which retold and modernized the Biblical story of David.  

"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," Gaiman said, in a statement. "[Y]ou 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."

American Gods follows ex-con Shadow, a Native American man drawn into a con game by a man he meets on an airplane. He travels the U.S. meeting players in the elaborate scheme, some of whom may be gods and some of whom may not. The book won several major science-fiction honors, including the Hugo and the Nebula. Gaiman, who has written episodes of Babylon 5 and Doctor Who, is listed as an executive producer on the series.

It's the second high-profile adaptation announced by the FremantleMedia in the recent past. The Returned, an English-language version of the creepy French supernatural drama, is currently in production for cable network A&E as well.