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Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ Lands Series Greenlight at Starz

Starz is moving forward with plans for a series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel “American Gods,” to be shepherded by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green.

Fuller and Green are writing the adaptation and will serve as showrunners and exec producers. Gaiman will also exec produce for FremantleMedia North America.

Starz said series production would be begin once producers land their leading man for the role of  Shadow Moon in the saga about a war between traditional gods from mythology and contemporary, materialistic deities. Shadow Moon is an ex-con and bodyguard for Mr. Wednesday, an older god in the guise of a conman.

“I am thrilled, ‎scared, delighted, nervous and a ball of glorious anticipation. The team that is going to bring the world of ‘American Gods’ to the screen has been assembled like the master criminals in a caper movie: I’m relieved and confident that my baby is in good hands. Now we finally move to the exciting business that fans have been doing for the last dozen years: casting our Shadow, our Wednesday, our Laura,” Gaiman said.

Starz is looking to build buzz for the project by promoting the search for the right actor to limn the lead character with the social-media effort #CastingShadow, inviting fans to weigh on who should get the gig.

“We hope to create a series that honors the book and does right by the fans, who have been casting it in their minds for years,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said.

“American Gods” is a big priority for FremantleMedia North America as it looks to grow its scripted production operations. The novel was brought into FremantleMedia by exec Stefanie Berk.

“Neil’s novel is a brilliant work of art, and together with the talented Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, we are committed to delivering a series that is nothing short of extraordinary,” said FremantleMedia North America co-CEO Craig Cegielski said.

Starz is hanging on to pay TV and SVOD rights, but Fremantle will distribute the property in the rest of the world. The much-praised book, which has landed fantasy fiction’s Hugo and Nebula awards, has been translated into 30 languages.

“Almost 15 years ago, Neil Gaiman filled a toy box with gods and magic, and we are thrilled to finally crack it open and play. We’re grateful to have Starz above us and FremantleMedia at our backs as we appease the gods, American or otherwise,” Fuller and Green said in a statement.

Fuller discussed his work on the project at the recent ATX Television Festival in Austin, telling fans, “I was raised Catholic, (Michael Green) was raised Jewish, so we both have fascination with these great mythological stories, so we were talking over lunch one day about how we both want to work together again on something, then ‘American Gods’ came up … There’s so much of that book that is a story of Shadow and Wednesday, and our approach is almost anthological — but we wouldn’t tell the network ‘anthological’ — in that we get to see Bilquis, who we see eat a man with her vagina in one chapter of the book and is never seen or heard from again. She’s a main character. We get to tell stories that start 5,000 years ago in ancient Babylonia and then see how she came to the modern day.”

He added, “Neil Gaiman has given us a lot of room to really dig into the characters and he’s shared them with us. It’s an immigration story really, at its heart, so it feels like we can unpack that in a way that allows us to tell a signature story.”

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