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Starz, Bryan Fuller Board Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods'

The premium cable network has joined the FremantleMedia project with a script-to-series commitment.

American Gods Cover Bryan Fuller Inset - P 2014
Todd Williamson/Invision for Producers Guild of America/AP Images
"American Gods" with Bryan Fuller (inset)

Starz is investing in Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

The premium cable network and writer-producers Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (The River, Heroes) have boarded FremantleMedia North America's adaptation of Gaiman's urban fantasy novel American Gods. Starz has handed out a script-to-series commitment to the project, with Fuller and Green attached to serve as showrunners and exec produce alongside Gaiman. FMNA will produce the series, which is based on the 2001 award-winning novel that has been translated into more than 30 languages. The project previously was in development at HBO, which passed on it.

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The drama centers on a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation for a battle with the new deities.  

FMNA's Thom Beers, Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk will executive produce the series along with Fuller, Green and Gaiman. Starz vp original programming Ken Segna will oversee for the cabler, which will retain all network pay TV and SVOD rights to the project. FremantleMedia will distribute the series worldwide.

American Gods marks the latest scripted venture for FMNA, which landed the project in February. The company is also in production on The Returned.

For Starz, American God would join a roster of original scripted dramas that currently includes Black Sails, Da Vinci's Demons and Power as well as the upcoming series Outlander, Flesh and Bone and The Missing. The cabler also has comedies Blunt Talk and Survivor's Remorse in the works.

"When you create something like American Gods, which attracts fans and obsessives and people who tattoo quotes from it on themselves or each other, and who all, tattooed or not, just care about it deeply, it's really important to pick your team carefully. You don't want to let the fans down, or the people who care and have been casting it online since the dawn of recorded history," Gaiman said. "What I love most about the team whom I trust to take it out to the world, is that they are the same kind of fanatics that American Gods has attracted since the start. I haven't actually checked Bryan Fuller or Michael Green for quote tattoos, but I would not be surprised if they have them. The people at Fremantle are the kinds of people who have copies of American Gods in the bottom of their backpacks after going around the world, and who press them on their friends. And the team at Starz has been quite certain that they wanted to give Shadow, Wednesday and Laura a home since they first heard that the book was out there. I can't wait to see what they do to bring the story to the widest possible audience able to cope with it."

Should American Gods move forward, it would become Fuller's second series on the air based on a book, joining the third season of NBC's Hannibal adaptation.  

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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