To say it’s been a rough couple of months for Starz‘s American Gods would be a serious understatement, especially considering their series adaptation of author and executive producer Neil Gaiman‘s novel is coming off of a strong first season. We’ve watched as things got a little nasty between out-going showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green and Fremantle; and between Gaiman and The Hollywood Reporter. Starz stumbled when it came to having a clear, concise message to calm nervous fans. It also seems that Fremantle is looking for a new Media, confirming Gillian Anderson‘s earlier comments that she would not be returning; and Kristin Chenoweth appears to not be returning, either.
With a new showrunner in place in the form of Hannibal‘s Jesse Alexander, it appears we’re slowly crawling towards the “dawn” part of the old “darkest before dawn” expression. Adding to that growing “cautious optimism” is none other than Tech Boy himself, Bruce Langley, who took to Twitter to let fans know that the American Gods crew are “reving (sp?) up its starter engines” to start work on Season 2 (Reporter’s note: “Amen!”).
Pretty sure you can spot some familiar faces here:
Alexander is replacing Fuller and Green, who oversaw the development and first season of the Starz drama before being fired in November after battles with Fremantle over the show’s expanding budget needs. Speaking with reporters in January, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht stated that Fuller and Green were neither fired nor did they quit; and that the duo would still be involved with American Gods “as much as they can be,” though the duo are not expected to have any involvement in the series other than on-screen credits.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Gaiman has this to say about the hiring of Alexander:
“I’m thrilled that Jesse is [the] showrunner. He loves and understands the book, he loves and understands the TV series and he’s dedicated to making future seasons of American Gods as good and as beautiful and as unique as they can be. Shadow’s journey is going to take him, and Mr. Wednesday, and the New Gods and the Old, to some very strange places. I’m glad that we, and the cast and crew, will have Jesse shepherding us on the way.”
The report also included some very pointed allegations from anonymous sources:
● Fuller and Green’s six completed scripts are expected to be scrapped, and restarted from scratch with Alexander.
● Gaiman wasn’t happy with the direction that Fuller and Green were attempting to take the series, feeling they were moving too far away from the source material; and that Gaiman wanted a showrunner who would steer the series back to the novel (and away from the Season 1 finale).
● American Gods‘ first season was estimated to have run $30 million over budget; and that multiple rewrites with Fuller scrapping some episodes and reworking others resulted in the Season 1 episode count dropping from ten episodes to eight episodes.
● Fremantle set a $9 million/episode budget for the second season, with Fuller and Green asking for more to produce ten-episode season.
● With the delay in securing a new showrunner and to keep budgets in line, American Gods is expected to have its second season episode count reduced; and the previously undisclosed January 2019 return date has also become increasingly unlikely.
In response, Gaiman took to Twitter to challenge a number of the assertions made regrading behind-the-scenes budget and script battles. When asked if it was true that he was unhappy with the work done by previous showrunners Green and Fuller, Gaiman tweeted: “Nope. It’s fictional. Most of the article was fictional.”
When asked to clarify which parts the reader should believe, Gaiman made it simple: “The bit that says Jesse is now show runner.”