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Although many might not know FremantleMedia by name, they will no doubt recognize the programs it produces. Though it’s best known for reality television like Amercian Idol, The X Factor, America’s Got Talent and game shows like The Price is Right and Family Feud, the media conglomerate has recently taken steps into scripted television, producing The Tomorrow People for The CW with other shows in the pipeline, including Basket Case at Spike and The Returned for A&E.
American Gods was in development at HBO up until November 2013, when Gaiman confirmed on a Reddit AMA that the series, though still in development, had changed hands.
“There is an American Gods TV series in the works,” Gaiman wrote in the AMA. “It’s no longer with HBO. The moment that things are ready to be announced I am sure they will be, either legitimately or via a leak in a big Hollywood Agency mailroom.”
Although FremantleMedia picking up the rights to American Gods is a step in the right direction for the series to get to air, it’s still very early days and no other details about timing or a network were divulged.
Official Press Release
FremantleMedia North America has finalized a deal for the rights to Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed urban fantasy novel American Gods, it was announced today by Thom Beers, CEO, FremantleMedia North America.
The 2001 novel has been translated into over 30 languages and earned numerous accolades including Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards for Best Novel. Gaiman, the creator of the celebrated Sandman comic series, and the author of bestselling novels The Graveyard Book, Coraline and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, will Executive Produce the series along with FremantleMedia. Gaiman was represented in the deal by Jon Levin at CAA on behalf of literary agent Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House.
The plot posits 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 to battle the new deities.
The acquisition of American Gods reflects the recent ramp-up in development activity by FremantleMedia North America’s scripted television division, most recently seen in the sale of the US adaptation of the hit French format “The Returned,” currently in development at A&E, Carl Hiaasen’s novel “Basket Case” in development at Spike with Rob Reiner attached and “The Tomorrow People,” picked up for a back-nine order by The CW. The succession of scripted projects follows the appointment of Craig Cegielski, Executive Vice President, Scripted Programming and Development, and Stefanie Berk, Senior Executive Vice President, Scripted Programming and Development in June of 2013.