American Gods is a strange hive of problems.
Its original showrunners, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, parted ways with the series and production company FremantleMedia North America after reaching an impasse over budgeting issues. In their place was Jesse Alexander, a veteran of Heroes, Alias and Hannibal with Gods author Neil Gaiman scheduled to help out in the writers room. But now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Alexander is out as well as the show suspends production to sort out its latest troubles.
THR’s report indicates the producer was “asked to stop working” last month, but more loaded terms like “fired” were judiciously avoided. As it currently stands, Alexander will not help edit the series, finish any more scripts, work in the writers room or do any of the tasks most showrunners take on. In effect, he has been exiled as Fremantle hopes to avoid the publicity of a second major staff change on American Gods before the second season even debuts on Starz.
Additionally, both Starz and Fremantle rejected six drafts of Alexander’s season two finale while production on the show itself is six weeks behind in lieu of a completed script.
Sources tell the site tensions between Alexander and Fremantle led to an untenable situation in which some of the stars wound up rewriting script pages — castmember and WGA member Orlando Jones was drafted as the writer of these scenes to avoid guild issues. Gaiman, who was to be more involved in the season, was a rare presence in the writers room as he was busy with Good Omens, a Fremantle adaptation of his novel with the late Terry Pratchett. And despite the production company’s hopes to keep costs down, the original reason for Fuller and Green’s departure, the second season will now come in way over budget and way past schedule. Originally due out next year, it appears Season 2 will not debut until 2020.
The situation sounds ridiculously messy with Starz expecting more of what Fuller and Green delivered in the first season, Gaiman’s wishing for the series to be more like his novel and Fremantle desperately hoping to come in on budget. The series will return, eventually, but it is hard to believe anyone will want to continue for a third year. Maybe that finale draft, when it is finally approved, will end American Gods entirely.