Fans of Neil Gaiman have been going grey at the temples waiting for someone to adapt his novel "American Gods" for film or TV. For that matter, we're still waiting on "The Sandman" and/or the spin-off about the Sandman's little sister, Death, both of which have been in limbo for more years than we'd like to count, and if Joseph Gordon-Levitt is listening, please cast Tom Hiddleston as Orpheus, come on, man! Ahem.
About "American Gods," then. There's been a ton of back and forth over the past few years about adapting the book for HBO. In March of 2013, Gaiman was at the Cambridge International Student Film Festival and revealed a bunch of details that indicated the TV show was raring to go. Specifically, "'American Gods' will debut this year if Gaiman can get the pilot script done in time to HBO's satisfaction," according to Tor.com. It sounded like it was a go, right?! Wrong! Gaiman wrote in a Reddit AMA six months ago, "There is an 'American Gods' TV series in the works. It's no longer with HBO. The moment that things are ready to be announced I am sure they will be, either legitimately or via a leak in a big Hollywood Agency mailroom."
HBO's president of programming, Michael Lombardo, revealed to Vulture how "American Gods" got the axe. It's not pretty.
"I think we're all huge fans of the book, and I think the script just didn't -- we couldn't craft the script as good as we needed it to be. I think we knew going in that it would be a challenge; every good book is a challenge to adapt it and find the level you need for it. The bar is high now for great dramas. And to find that bar -- we tried. So it was a huge disappointment [...] We tried three different writers, we put a lot of effort into it. Some things just don't happen. We have to trust at the end of the day, if you don't have a star with a great script, you're just not going to go through with it." He added, "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."
That's kind of crazy, right? One of the most talked-about shows on TV is on HBO, and it's an adaptation of a sprawling fantasy series that has so many characters that you can actually download an app to keep track of them all. Gaiman has one TV series under his belt, "Neverwhere," which he later turned into a novel, as well as two episodes of "Doctor Who." Although he hasn't adapted his own work into a screenplay -- the screenplay "Coraline" is by Henry Selick, and "Stardust" was adapted by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn -- but it seems weird that the prolific author couldn't find a way to adapt his own novel into a TV series that HBO felt strong enough about to greenlight.
Then again, it's better to have no "American Gods" series than a half-rate one.
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