Deadline reports that the property was brought to HBO by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzeman, whose Playtone production label was responsible for Band of Brothers, The Pacific, From the Earth to the Moon, Big Love, and John Adams at the network. The novel showed up on their radar courtesy of Robert Richardson, the director of photography who shot Kill Bill, JFK, Platoon, The Aviator, Inglourious Basterds, Casino, Shutter Island, A Few Good Men, and the upcoming Martin Scorsese-directed Hugo Cabret. Two-time Oscar winner Richardson will make his first scripting effort on the American Gods pilot in collaboration with Neil Gaiman.
The novel, which I recently forced my brother to read, is a dense, is alternately dark and playful epic concerning a newly released convict named Shadow who finds himself unexpectedly involved in a uniquely American landscape of ancient gods imported from other nations along with immigrant populations. These old deities' powers are diminished, as they run on the various sacrifices made to them. They face extinction from new, contemporary gods of credit, consumer goods, and the like.
A few years ago, Gaiman also wrote 'Anansi Boys', spin-off set within the same world as 'American Gods', and its unknown whether any material from that novel will find its way into the hopeful HBO series.
Gaiman's work has previously received cinematic adaptations with Coraline and Stardust. Neil Jordan is writing and directing a film version of his recent Newbery Medal-winning young adult novel 'The Graveyard Book', under the tentative title Graveyard. Gaiman's groundbreaking comic book work on 'The Sandman' has also been kicking around Hollywood for years, as well, though its better left in the original medium. His screenwriting work includes contributions to Beowulf and an upcoming episode of Doctor Who.
Color me psyched. Psyched, I say! If this actually happens, HBO will have completely redeemed itself for Dane Cook's Tourgasm.