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American Gods is a beloved book, both by long-time fantasy fans and readers new to the genre. But can it successfully make the jump to television? Deadline reports that Neil Gaiman's 2001 novel — once in development at HBO — is now being shepherded to the screen by FremantleMedia with the writer executive producing. The award-winning book tells the story of recently released ex-con Shadow and how a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday pulls him into the hidden-in-plain-sight world of gods and mythical creatures living on Earth. It's an epic, but unlike the source material for, say, Game of Thrones, American Gods is not a series. If it's successful, a television series will have to reach beyond the canon as written. Still, the book itself has plenty of juicy parts for an incredibly diverse cast. From Mr. Nancy (a trickster in the vein of African spider god Ansansi) to the Zorya Sisters (three goddesses adapted from Slavic folklore), American Gods is packed with roles to attract some serious talent. And we hope there's an equally serious wardrobe budget to deck these earthly gods out.
On his personal website, Gaiman confirmed that while HBO had the option on the book, it went through three different pilot scripts. That's not exactly an item for the "Pro" column. Gaiman can write cinematically, and properties like Coraline and Stardust have been adapted brilliantly. Gods, however, is an elegant mess, packed with subplots and set pieces that often aren't directly connected to the main action. This could be tricky. In the same blog, the writer claims that the process with Fremantle has been "smoother," though, "as to where you will be able to see it, who is going to be in it, who will be writing or show-running, none of these things have yet been settled."
With what little information we have to go on, do you think that American Gods can work on screen? Vote in our poll!