American Gods‘ long journey to the screen has been successfully completed. Starz has given a straight-to-series order to a drama adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Hugo and Nebula Award-winning contemporary fantasy novel from FremantleMedia North America. The series was developed and written by Hannibal and Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller and Kings creator Michael Green who will executive produce and showrun. Gaiman also will executive produce the series, which is launching a casting search for the lead role of Shadow Moon.

fullermichaelgreenIn the 2001 novel, which has been translated into over 30 languages, a war is brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. The book centers on Shadow Moon, an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.

“With our partners at FremantleMedia and with Bryan, Michael and Neil guiding the project, we hope to create a series that honors the book and does right by the fans, who have been casting it in their minds for years,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said. “The search for Shadow begins today!”

Starz has successfully brought to the screen another very popular book property, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, after an extensive casting process followed closely by the novels’ fans.

“I am thrilled, ‎scared, delighted, nervous and a ball of glorious anticipation,” Gaiman said. “The team that is going to bring the world of American Gods to the screen has been assembled like the master criminals in a caper movie: I’m relieved and confident that my baby is in good hands. Now we finally move to the exciting business that fans have been doing for the last dozen years: casting our Shadow, our Wednesday, our Laura…”

American Gods was originally set up at HBO in 2011 through Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone. The project didn’t go forward, and two years later, when Playtone’s Stefanie Berk left to join FMNA as SVP scripted, she brought the book with her.

fremantlemedia north america logoEver since, “American Gods has been the passion project for us,” said Craig Cegielski, Co-CEO, FremantleMedia North America, who has overseen the company’s scripted operations. He and Berk also will executive produce the series.

Last summer, American Gods was set up at Starz. As the pay cable network normally does, the project was put in development with an eye towards a straight-to-series order. Fuller recently was quoted as saying that two scripts have been completed along with illustrations demonstrating his and Green’s vision for the show.

“Almost 15 years ago, Neil Gaiman filled a toy box with gods and magic and we are thrilled to finally crack it open and play,” Fuller and Green said. “We’re grateful to have Starz above us and FremantleMedia at our backs as we appease the gods, American or otherwise.”

Starz will retain all network pay TV and SVOD rights to the project. FremantleMedia will distribute the series worldwide.

Fuller, repped by WME and Ken Ziffren, has no deal to run his NBC series Hannibal beyond the current third season. While a fourth season renewal is considered highly unlikely, I hear something could be worked out in terms of a future Fuller involvement. Green, repped by WME, Patti Felker and Erwin Stoff, has been busy in features with his scripts for Murder On The Orient Express at Fox and sequels to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Prometheus.