Since it was announced that Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone Company was working with HBO to develop American Gods as a six-season series of 10 to 12 episodes, possibly premiering in 2013, fans of the best-selling Neil Gaiman novel have been all abuzz. So, when I had a few minutes to chat with HBO Co-President Richard Plepler and President of Programming Michael Lombardo, following the executive session for the network at the TCA Press Tour, of course I asked them to update the status of that development and confirm whether or not they were actually going ahead with what seems like such a huge commitment. While they clearly haven’t made any promises, they both said that it is in the very early stages of development and that they haven’t even seen a script yet. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: Where are things at with American Gods and what you’re doing with that? How will the reaction you’ve gotten from Game of Thrones affect what you do with that, since it’s also from source material?
MICHAEL LOMBARDO: We haven’t gotten out of the business of developing from source material. We haven’t said, “Ah, Game of Thrones, we’re not taking pitches anymore.” I think it’s a challenge, always. We want to satisfy as many of our consumers as we can. But, at the end of the day, what we respond to is great storytelling. We had three psychiatrist shows on at almost the same time. So, all I’m saying is, with source material from the fantasy world – and I don’t know how much you can extrapolate about George R.R. Martin because he’s very unique in the world – some pretty compelling shows can come from genre and source material. We’re open to it, we’re developing it, and we’ll see.
RICHARD PLEPLER: The key is what the auteur does with the source material, not the source material itself being dispositive or not. What Alan [Ball] did with Charlaine Harris was masterful. What David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] did with George R.R. Martin was masterful. But, it’s what they did with it.
Are you committed to the development of American Gods, with the talk of it being picked up for six seasons?
PLEPLER: No, no, no, no, no.
LOMBARDO: It’s very early development. It hasn’t gotten to the place to even talk about that yet.
PLEPLER: What happens is that things like that get announced as development projects, and then somebody writes about it, as if there’s a 10-year commitment, and we haven’t even seen a script yet. That happens frequently. It’s in early development.