Here’s Why the ‘American Gods’ HBO Series Never Happened
You may recall that a few years back, HBO was planning a six-season adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods. You may also have noticed that that it never actually came to pass. So what happened? Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president of programming, has the answer.
Lombardo touched upon the scrapped American Gods plans in a conversation with Vulture. After admitting he was sad HBO had lost the option to American Gods, he explained:
I think we’re all huge fans of the book, and I think the script just didn’t — we couldn’t craft the script as good as we needed it to be. I think we knew going in that it would be a challenge; every good book is a challenge to adapt it and find the level you need for it. The bar is high now for great dramas. And to find that bar — we tried. So it was a huge disappointment […] We tried three different writers, we put a lot of effort into it. Some things just don’t happen. We have to trust at the end of the day, if you don’t have a star with a great script, you’re just not going to go through with it.
He concluded, “Even though we love the book, we love the idea, we love the hope of what it could be, we just couldn’t get it right.”
Funnily enough, Gaiman revealed last year that one of the things HBO didn’t like about his script was that he’d added new material that wasn’t in the books. “[I]t was definitely the sort of awkward, embarrassed notes from HBO where they’re going ‘Um, can you make it more like the book?’” he recalled.
Overall, though, it’s tough to argue with Lombardo’s reasoning. It’s clear HBO put in the effort, even if they didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Gaiman, but was smart enough to recognize when their best just wasn’t good enough. Their decision spared fans the heartbreak of seeing beloved source material turned into a subpar series.
Plus, it’s left the door open for someone else to do the story right. After HBO lost the rights, FremantleMedia swooped in to scoop them up. They’re now developing a new version of the American Gods series with Gaiman serving as executive producer.