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Starz’s acclaimed fantasy series American Gods has added Jesse Alexander to act as season 2 showrunner. Alexander steps in to replace Brian Fuller and Michael Green, who developed the big-budget drama but left after season 1.
American Gods was originally a Neil Gaiman novel blending mythology, fantasy and classically American elements. The show centers largely around Shadow Moon, an ex-convict introduced to the world of warring gods via his association with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Old gods who’ve long ruled over the earth spar with new gods sprung up during the age of modern media and technology. With its dazzling visuals and inventive storytelling, the show won over critics and became a signature series for Starz. Despite a successful first season, the show parted ways with showrunners Fuller and Green. Neil Gaiman was named to step in as a main creative force behind season 2 with a showrunner to be added later.
As reported by THR, American Gods has now tapped Jesse Alexander to work alongside Gaiman as showrunner. Several established showrunners reportedly turned down offers before Alexander was chosen. Gaiman released a statement about the hire:
“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.”
Alexander’s resume includes work on former Gods showrunner Fuller’s series Hannibal and Star Trek: Discovery. He also worked on J.J. Abrams’ Alias and Lost, and put in time on Tim Kring’s Heroes. Clearly he possesses lots of experience in the world of television genre fiction. He’ll need to draw on all his experience to pull together season 2 of American Gods, which will have to go forward without cast member Gillian Anderson, who will not return as the New God Media.
THR says original showrunners Fuller and Green left at least in part because Neil Gaiman was unhappy with the direction the team was taking the show. Gaiman thought they were deviating too far from his source material. The author reportedly wants a straight adaptation of his book, and wants season 1’s cliffhanger ending ignored. In addition, Fremantle became upset that season 1 went $30 million over-budget, forcing the episode count down from 10 to eight. Fuller and Green reportedly were angry that Fremantle wants to cap season 2’s budget at $9 million-per-episode. Fuller and Green already wrote six season 2 episodes but those will now hit the scrapheap so Alexander can start from scratch.