Jun 13 2011 4:17pm

Gaiman’s American Gods Set to Become HBO’s Next Genre Series

American Gods coming to HBO

Can you imagine Neil Gaiman’s American Gods as a six-season HBO series?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tom Hanks and Playtone Productions is set to begin adapting Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods into an episodic drama stretched over six seasons on HBO, with a possible debut in 2013. Playtone’s plans are amibitious:

...each season will be of 10-12, hour-long episodes with a budget of around $35-40 million per season, targeted to debut on the cable powerhouse in 2013 at the earliest.

The series will play with the novel’s central question: Are you a god if no one believes in you? And while that theme, and the book’s myriad cast of secondary and tertiary gods, could certainly fill six seasons worth of television, it still begs the question of how one book, a short story, and a spin-off novel can fill so much space.

Gaiman, who is on board as an executive producer and writer for the series, has revealed that the series has not been constructed to cover only American Gods. For starters, it will also encompass its sequel, which he now has to start writing. Via the author’s Twitter:

And for those asking, No, 6 years of AMERICAN GODS on TV doesn’t mean just the 1st book. It means I need to write the 2nd now, for a start.

This news comes on the heels of the 10th anniversary rerelease of American Gods, which hits shelves on June 21st and features 20,000 extra words of story, essays, and more.

For those unfamiliar, American Gods is the story of Shadow, a man recently released from prison, who encounters an enigmatic con artist by the name of Wednesday. As the story unfolds it becomes more and more apparent that the gods and concepts we worship are still present in our world, in one form or another, and that Shadow has become a key pawn in their machinations.

This news could come as a disappointment to Gaiman fans eager for an HBO adaptation of the epic Sandman comic series, although considering the planned length of HBO’s American Gods and the mention of a second book, fans could very well be seeing the beginning of a new long-running epic from the writer.

The idea of an American Gods series joining HBO’s line-up gives an interesting color to the state of genre television, as well. Come 2013, HBO could possibly be featuring three different genre programs: Game of Thrones, True Blood, and American Gods. In terms of pure conjecture: this could be in addition to The Walking Dead on AMC, Doctor Who on BBC America, and possibly Camelot and a fifth series of Torchwood on Starz.

If even half of the above comes about, genre television could be seen as a safe harbor for premium cable content in a way that network channels seem to have abandoned. It’ll be intriguing to see how the next two years of television unfolds.

One certainly gets the sense that the world of American Gods hoards a near-endless amount of gods’ tales. Perhaps the television series will be structured like the book, with vignettes from other gods giving us a breather from the main story? Will the TV series expand on the “new” gods that the book only (terrifyingly) hinted at? Will Shadow seek out other, well...that would be spoiling the book. Will Anansi Boys be incorporated into the show? The possibilities are exciting to consider.

Stubby the Rocket is the mascot and often random voice of

1. mochabean
Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Also, I am imagining an entire season of Shadow hanging on the tree...
Rikka Cordin
2. Rikka
ehhhhh, I'll have to see trailers before they sell me on this. American Gods is just so... weird. And lovely. And dark. Iunno.

We'll see, I guess.
Neil Jensen
4. NA_Jensen
A Woohoo! and a Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! for me too! More Neil Gaiman please!
Ashley McGee
5. AshleyMcGee
Yes! Now I have to get cable tv again. And soon. Squeeeeeee 2013! Wait a second, did anyone else see this: Tom Hanks? Hope he's only affiliated with the studio.
Chris Lough
6. TorChris
@5. Hanks is the head of Playtone, the production company behind this, so he's definitely affiliated but its unclear if he'll have any other role. I'm personally not worried in that regard, given their past output, but I heart heart hearted "That Thing You Do," so...
7. DarrenJL
@5: Ashley, Hanks carried a film with nothing but a tropical homeless getup and a volleyball. Why the dislike?
Marcus W
8. toryx
Hanks and HBO have a great relationship. If anyone's going to ensure that the series is not only done well but given a great deal of space and money to be treated right, Hanks is the man to do it.

I'm not a huge fan of American Gods but I did like it. I think basing a TV show (especially on HBO) around it has a lot of possibilities. I really want to see who they might cast for various roles, although that's way in the future right now.

Overall I love HBO shows and I'm thrilled that they're doing genre work now.
9. marian
This would wipe the bad taste of "Thor" out of my mouth.
10. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
Six seasons based on the whole of interconnected American Gods material is a really cool idea. Season one the original novel, season two American Gods: Anansi Boys, season three American Gods: Monarch of the Glen, season four American Gods: Amanda Make Him Write Faster, etc.

(One complaint, Stubbs: I know you're an inanimate object and all, but "begs the question" does not mean "raises the question." "Begs the question" is a particular kind of logical fallacy that apparently no one on earth understands.)
Roland of Gilead
11. pKp
Whaaat, first A Song of Ice and Fire and now this ? What's next, HBO buying back Firefly from Fox ? A World War Z series ?

I seriously love HBO. Too bad I can't actually give them any money, what with livin' in Europe and all...
12. hamstercheeks
...Interesting. I look forward to seeing how this would play out on the silver screen. In any case, American Gods is a superior work of fiction. Low-Key is awwwwwesome.
13. JohnFrost
You know, I felt like an idiot for not seeing it from the beginning, but Low-Key Lyesmith is a lot more obvious when spoken out loud instead of just read off a page. It'll be impossible, IMHO, to keep that character's identity a secret past his first scene.
14. nearside81
Also, if you remember Tom Hanks was one of the executive producers of that other little HBO mini-series that kinda got them started: 'Band of Brothers'. It was a modest production so I can understand if you've never heard of's pretty underground.
15. katyr
Seriously, these are some of the best comments I've ever read after an article. Just shows ta go ya about people who actually read. Love you all.
16. DreadPirateRoberts
@katyr yup. Nothing says educated reader like a good squeeeeeee!
17. spda242
Not only did they give us Game of Thrones and True Blood, now they are talking about American Gods!!!
What can I say? AMAZING!!!
18. Jam
Hopefully, they don't mess it up. I would hate that.

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