The Daily Athenaeum: Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ to make television debut on HBO

January 16th, 2013

Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ to make television debut on HBO

By Laura Ciarolla

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Neil Gaiman and Playtone productions have confirmed a new series for HBO.

One of Gaiman’s most popular novels, “American Gods,” is slated for a late 2013 or 2014 release as a six-season television series, featuring 10-12 one-hour episodes in each season.

“American Gods” follows the story of ex-convict Shadow, who accepts a job from a mysterious stranger after his release from prison.

Shadow is immediately pulled into the world of his bizarre employer, and as extraordinary events begin to unfold, all of his conceptions of the world are thrown into question.

The novel features characters inspired by many mythologies and religions, as well as modern-day deities created by Gaiman, such as a god of technology and of media.

According to, Playtone announced this new development in 2011 and appointed Gaiman to write the series.

Gaiman already has some experience writing for television; an episode he wrote for the sixth season of “Doctor Who” quickly became a fan favorite.

Another of Gaiman’s novels, “Stardust,” was also adapted to screen as a film in 2007 and was generally received well by audiences.

The seasoned writer feels this particular novel will do much better as a television series than a movie, but the challenge of adapting the script to television has complicated its release.

“Over the years, I’ve had phone calls from major directors or major actors. They say, ‘I want to make it into a movie,’ and I say, ‘Great. How?’” Gaiman said in an interview at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2011.

“And at that point, I would always have to apologize for the fact that I wrote it while I was doing a couple of screenplays and was incredibly grumpy at the idea of doing 124-page stories with beginnings, middles and ends and several beginnings, and middles all over the place. So I actually like the idea that HBO are doing it.”

Robert Richardson, who worked on Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” and “Inglorious Basterds,” is set to make his directorial debut with the series.

Playtone also announced the tentative budget for the series – a whopping $35-40 million per season. Playtone’s Gary Goetzman assures it will be used well, however.

“There are some crazy things in (American Gods). We’ll probably be doing more effects in there than it’s been done on a television series,” Goetzman said.

Some fans of the novel may be wary of the extended onscreen adaptation, since the novel itself is only 624 pages.

That adds up to about 10 pages per episode, if you were to divvy it up.

Keep in mind, though, Gaiman himself will be writing the episodes, and he already expressed a desire to expand on the material in the book.

“I want to make it faithful, but also would like it to have a few surprises for people who read the book,” Gaiman said in an interview with “I hate that thing where people have read the books and they go, ‘Oh, I know everything that’s going to happen.’ I want to be like, ‘Okay, no you don’t.’

“I want there to still be some surprises.”

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