I was starting to wonder if the web-based TV pundits had started branching out into prognostication: "HBO Adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods Will Last Six Seasons," proclaimed Zap2it; "Tom Hanks producing 6 seasons of Neil Gaiman's American Gods for HBO," predicted io9; "Tom Hanks Will Make Sure American Gods Is Done Right," promised The New York Times (good to know!).
Playtone chiefs Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.
© Kevin Winter/Getty Images
I was really hoping to see similarly oracular headlines for other series: "True Blood Will Hang On For Three More Seasons, Tops," or "Lost Reunion Special a Real Snore." But it turns out that all these messages from the Blue were in fact reflecting Tom Hanks's first elaboration on his plans to adapt Gaiman's American Gods--in particular, that he wants to spread the story out over six seasons.
Hanks's production company, Playtone, has set out a blueprint for six seasons times ten episodes at $3 to $4 million each, which exposes what this story is really about: Hanks and his production partner, Gary Goetzman, made their accountants crunch the numbers and balance out what they wanted to spend against likely costs. So this was not a pronouncement of some kind of Straczynskian overarching Plan for the Show--this was a peek at the American Gods Excel spreadsheet.
Factored into this is how much Playtone is willing to spend on effects to make its divine beings look suitably godlike. "We'll do justice to the awe-inspiring power of divine beings," said Goetzman. "We'll be doing more effects than have been done on television." Is that possible on $3 million an episode, which has to include cast and crew payroll and mundane production costs? Maybe, but it's not excessive.
More to the point: After the souffle fell on Dark Tower, which started out as this elaborate multi-year scheme from Hanks's fellow real-life American God, Ron Howard, it feels like an inauspicious time to start building a chronological Bridge to Nowhere with your new franchise. On the other hand, if there's anyone you want to trust in Hollywood when it comes to forward planning, it's Tom Hanks.
Funnily enough, alongside American Gods, Playtone is also developing an adaptation of the Green Day musical American Idiots. Don't get them mixed up! Actually, I'm envisioning a reality show--American Gods on one side, American Idiots on the other, and they each have to make their way across Europe using only public transportation.
|Tags: American Gods, Neil Gaiman, Tom Hanks|
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