Playtone Promises Six-Season Adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS on HBO in 2013

     June 11, 2011


HBO started kicking the tires of Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods back in April as a possible series to be produced by Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, with Gaiman on board as writer and executive producer.  Goetzman revealed details this weekend to THR: Playtone is planning six season of 10-12 hourlong episodes with a budget of $35-40 million each season.  American Gods will premiere in 2013 at the earliest.

That’s a lot of money for a weekly series — minimally $3 million per episode, more than most broadcast shows.  Playtone is used to the Daddy Warbucks treatment from HBO — the network reportedly budgeted The Pacific around $225 million (over $20 million per hour).  But Goetzman promises they’ll put the money to good use:

“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.”

Hit the jump for a synopsis of the crazy things in Gaiman’s novel after the break.


Titans clash, but with more fuss than fury in this fantasy demi-epic from the author of Neverwhere. The intriguing premise of Gaiman’s tale is that the gods of European yore, who came to North America with their immigrant believers, are squaring off for a rumble with new indigenous deities: “gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon.” They all walk around in mufti, disguised as ordinary people, which causes no end of trouble for 32-year-old protagonist Shadow Moon, who can’t turn around without bumping into a minor divinity. Released from prison the day after his beloved wife dies in a car accident, Shadow takes a job as emissary for Mr. Wednesday, avatar of the Norse god Grimnir, unaware that his boss’s recruiting trip across the American heartland will subject him to repeat visits from the reanimated corpse of his dead wife and brutal roughing up by the goons of Wednesday’s adversary, Mr. World.

At last Shadow must reevaluate his own deeply held beliefs in order to determine his crucial role in the final showdown. Gaiman tries to keep the magical and the mundane evenly balanced, but he is clearly more interested in the activities of his human protagonists: Shadow’s poignant personal moments and the tale’s affectionate slices of smalltown life are much better developed than the aimless plot, which bounces Shadow from one episodic encounter to another in a design only the gods seem to know. Mere mortal readers will enjoy the tale’s wit, but puzzle over its strained mythopoeia. [Amazon]

The listing has American Gods at 624 pages.  Under a six-season plan, that’s about 8-11 pages per episode, which totals up to Not Enough Material.  (I am not familiar enough with either property to know if the spinoff novel Anansi Boys can be folded into the story.)  Given that Gaiman is on as a writer (presumably the head writer), I hope we see all the ideas tossed around in his head and in his notes during and since writing American Gods.  Clearly I need to go read the book, though I have a couple years to beat the series premiere.

Speaking of which, I may be cynical, but I believe it is folly to announce a six-season plan so early, even on HBO.  Fellow HBO series Carnivàle also had six seasons in mind, yet was cancelled after two.

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  • Bastardo

    This is a seriously kick-ass novel and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how this goes. I always pictured Mickey Rourke as the man cat (forgot the character’s name). It’s also got some strange shit in there (antidotes about tiger balls anyone?)

    • Lianne

      By kick-ass, do you mean so tedious and boring that the novel kicked your ass? American Gods was so ponderous and dull and depressing, it amazed me that someone could write so many annoying and forgettable characters. All of Gaiman’s novels are miserable and drippy. He should really go back to comics.

    • Gary

      Neil Gaiman is a lying Scientologist who is a liability to any production. This is just more rubbish from the Gaiman/Sea Org publicity team.

    • Xerces

      Neil Gaiman stinks. He can’t write a plot to save his life. His books are lame and dull with characters that are effete and goofy and passive. Gaiman is just a giant PR campaign from Scientology because he’s a standing member of the cult. Now they want their money back so they Gaiman’s supposed to bring in the bacon. Between the talentless Amanda Palmer and the lazy writing of Gaiman, the Sceinos will be waiting a long time.

  • jymmymack

    Gaiman is a master of the serialized form, just take a look at Sandman. I’m assuming that American Gods will be the first two or three seasons with a story stemming out afterwards. The book is clearly left open and I can see Gaiman wanting to take the time to further the adventures of Shadow and the new age and old age gods, which was hinted at in Monarch of the Glen. Also, I can see Gaiman following the footsteps of the Sandman series and having episodes which serve as one-shots or flashbacks. The one thing Gaiman made clear in American Gods is that these gods have loads and loads of stories (Anansi in particular loves stories).

    • Hank

      Ha, Ha! Master of stupid ass ideas, you mean. Gaiman sucks. Hde should go back to writing for drippy, damaged teens. Adults are way beyond his ability to handle. American Gods SUCKS!

  • Ringbearer1420

    Any news on the proposed American Tabloid series?

  • Johan

    There actually happens to be a novella that follows American Gods, called “The Monarch of the Glen”. I suppose that could make for a season.

    Besides, it’s a good bet that Gaiman will seek to expand the universe with further stories. Seeing how he is involved and all.

  • Mest

    Richardson and Gaiman are Scientologists. Neil Gaiman is underwriting Scientology. The Scientologist’s list Neil Gaiman in the Cornerstone Newsletter along with Mary Gaiman, as contributing $35,000.00 in 2009. Being listed in the Cornerstone Newsletter means you are in good-standing with the cult.

    In 2010, Mary Gaiman was awarded the “Gold Humanitarian Award” for her contribution of $500,000.00 to Scientology. This is significant because Mary Gaiman continues to be Neil Gaiman’s business partner in The Blank Corporation, which is now Neil Gaiman’s Scientology front and how he pays the cult.

    Gaiman is also the “Vitamin Heir” of Scientology. The Gaiman family owns G&G Vitamins which reaps 6 million a year from selling The Purification Rundown Vitamins.

    Gaiman’s two sisters, Claire Edwards and Lizzie Calciole are not just high-ranking Scientologists, they are the head of RECRUITING and the head of Wealden House, the Scientology stronghold in East Grinstead. These two cannot associate with Neil unless he is in good standing.

  • Mike

    Scrap this show and just bring back and finished Carnivale’s four seasons that were left unfinished. The fans deserve it, the show deserves it. One of the worst decisions HBO had made right when the the show was picking up and things were coming together. I’ll never trust in HBO again in fear of them ripping a good show away from you when you are fully invested in it.

  • Sil

    Gaiman is mediocre hack who must have a Scientology buddy at the Guardian just like his Sceintology buddy Richardson got Tom Hanks to option the second rate suck-dom that is American Gods.

    This old story about six seasons of HBO is a Scientology fantasy. HBO never buys anything for six seasons. Neil Gaiman is a lying Scientologist who is a liability to any production. This is just more rubbish from the Gaiman/Sea Org publicity team.

  • Jon

    What’s with the weird guy posting under 10 different names calling Gaiman a Scientologist? You can tell because he copy pastas the line, “Neil Gaiman is a lying Scientologist who is a liability to any production” about 4 times… over the period of TWO YEARS! lel what a freak.

    The novel, “american Gods” is critically acclaimed and I can find no reliable sources labelling him a Scientologist.

    Still can’t wait for the series to start – it’s gonna be great.

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