The first season of Starz’s Neil Gaiman adaptation American Gods was pretty good, but since it ended last summer, the show has been defined more by its behind-the-scenes chaos than its actual merits. Showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green both abruptly quit the series in November, with the official explanation being that they wanted a bigger budget than what production company FremantleMedia was willing to do. Then Gillian Anderson quit, evidently because she only wanted to work with Fuller, and then an additional report suggested that Neil Gaiman himself had butted heads with Fuller and Green because they were supposedly planning to move the second season away from the events of Gaiman’s book.
It all seemed like it had worked itself out, though, with Starz hiring Jesse Alexander to be the new showrunner and tossing out the scripts that Green and Fuller had already turned in, but the show is apparently six weeks behind schedule now and Alexander is getting shut out by Fremantle. That’s according to The Hollywood Reporter, which says Alexander hasn’t been officially fired, but he’s no longer working as showrunner or writer, he has not been “involved on set,” and he is not sitting in on editing. According to THR’s sources, Fremantle would rather keep paying him to do nothing than “endure the negative attention” of firing another showrunner.
The story says that there were major clashes between Alexander and the cast from the very beginning, with his vision for the show reportedly not lining up with what the actors and crew liked about Green and Fuller’s version. THR says there would be “screaming matches” between Alexander and star Ian McShane, who eventually started rewriting the scripts himself to try and improve his dialogue. It sounds like the problem was that Fremantle and Gaiman wanted Alexander to make a cheaper, more straightforward show that was a straight adaptation of the book, while Starz and the cast wanted the stylish fantasy drama that Green and Fuller made in season one.
Now, Fremantle has been forced to spend way more money than the original budget planned for in an attempt to clean up the messes that have already been made, with one source saying “they’re spending to spice up what was flat on the page.” Whatever the end result of this madness will be, the new season of American Gods will premiere next year.