Neil Gaiman Would Trade Good 'American Gods' Press for Peace

Neil Gaiman - Getty-H 2017
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Starz's adaptation of American Gods, with its immigration-centric story and diverse cast, is one of the more topical, timely shows of the year. But author Neil Gaiman, whose 2001 novel serves as the basis for the ambitious series, told The Hollywood Reporter at the show's premiere in Hollywood that he'd happily trade all his good press for a calmer political climate.

"Given the choice between the headlines saying, 'Is American Gods the Most Political Show of 2017?' 'Is American Gods the Most Important Show of 2017?' and a quieter world in which one was less worried about the possibility that in six months' time we might be waking up in a bombed-out wasteland and battling for food with the mutated cockroaches, I would take fewer headlines," the writer, who also serves as an executive producer, said.

Starz feted the new series with an elaborate premiere at the Arclight Cinerama Dome attended by much of the expansive cast — including Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber, Kristin Chenoweth and Crispin Glover. The carpet itself was lined with trees, an important visual cue in the book, and was bathed in late-afternoon sunlight as the first castmembers arrived.

Bryan Fuller, who ushered American Gods to the screen with Michael Green, told THR that while the story contains plenty of mature content (violence, language and copious nudity), there is also a lot of depth contained within.

"Let's face it — it's not for everybody. I think there's a fantastic delivery mechanism for a lot of really thoughtful ideas that Neil Gaiman had when he came to America as an immigrant and was trying to understand this country, [a] stranger in his own strange land. If you're open to hearing those immigration stories and celebrating immigration and allowing it to be a fantastic fantasy on how this country was formed, then you'll get a kick out of it."

Star Whittle, who plays the mysterious hero at the center of the story, Shadow Moon, told THR that perhaps one person in particular should give it a shot.

"I think this could possibly be Trump's favorite TV show because he may learn something," the actor quipped. "We're going to talk about some very topical, sensitive themes and we want to raise discussions. We want to have a conversation about it because it's important."

He continued, "We, by chance, have become the most politically current show on TV. The book came out in 2001; we wrapped in November before the election and inauguration. But we do talk about immigration, religion, faith, sexism, racism, homophobia, gun control, women's rights — and these are topics that should not go away, that need to be discussed. Hopefully this TV show will continue that conversation and keep it in the headlines." 

After screening the first episode in a packed theater, guests trekked a few blocks to the newly opened TAO restaurant, which was decked out with neon "OMG" signs (echoing the billboards and bus ads around town) and a galaxy-themed photo booth. Specialty cocktails, including a vodka concoction called The Nebula, a tequila drink called Nectar of the Gods, and more, were served with glow-in-the-dark straws.

Guests dined on passed hors d'oeuvres that included miso-glazed cod, tuna tartare on crispy rice, sliders, spring rolls, and even mini takeout containers of pork fried rice. Those who stuck it out until dessert was served were treated to tropical rice pudding, fortune cookies, and various flavors of mochi.

American Gods premieres Sunday, April 30, at 9 p.m. on Starz.