Starz is having some trouble pulling off the second season of American Gods — and the network’s top executive is pretty candid about the issues.
In recent months, showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have exited, actress Gillian Anderson has said she’s leaving the series and costar Kristin Chenoweth has said she’s unsure if she’s coming back. The first season was released to critical acclaim last April (and, we hear, cost a hefty $130 million to pull off). There’s no date yet set for season 2.
“There’s been some confusion around the cast exits,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena on Friday. “Gillian Anderson seems to be leaving everything, but this not a surprise — we knew she was not necessarily going to come back.” (The executive was referring to Anderson’s statement Thursday that she is also quitting Fox’s The X-Files after the current season.)
“Kristin Chenoweth, as far as we all know, is still committed to the show — obviously pending her availability because, as you are seeing, we’re having some trouble getting the second season underway,” he continued. “It’s an incredibly difficult adaptation of a fantastic novel. It’s one of the reasons it took so long to get to the screen in the first place. Bryan and Michael working with [author] Neil Gaiman have done a phenomenal job, and our partners Fremantle are working out with Bryan and Michael and their schedules a way for them to continue to be involved. Neil Gaiman will be taking a more central role moving forward into a more traditional showrunner function, and we’re looking for a partner for him who can ensure that the television part of this gets the appropriate attention. We’re very committed to American Gods. We love the show; as I mentioned before, it did very well for us. We’re hoping for many more American Gods to come on Starz.”
Albrecht was also asked about Fuller and Green leaving the show — why did that happen, and what will be their involvement moving forward? “They were not fired, nor did they quit,” he says (which is a rather perplexing thing to say). “There’s a very good relationship between Freemantle and Michael and Bryan. Everyone is trying to work this out to have this be a win-win for the people involved and the show itself. They’re tremendous fans of the material and have a terrific relationship with Neil Gaiman, and all things being considered, everyone wants to keep as much as the team intact for as long as possible.”
“Bryan and Michael will be involved as much as they can be,” Albrecht added. “It’s a little bit up in the air as to what their exact role will be … It’s a big show, it’s a monster show. It has faced many of the challenges that terrific, complex premium shows [have] when trying to get successive seasons, especially when art comes before commerce. … Not surprisingly if you’ve seen the show, it’s not an inexpensive show. Budget is always a factor, but Freemantle has been really terrific in wanting to reinvest. This is about is there a vision that can be executed on a regular basis. It’s obviously not ideal to have 18 months or two years between seasons, especially given how competitive the world has become. Fremantle needs to know that there’s a formula where they can get the show on, and we’d like to have the same as well. It might be that the things that Bryan and Michael were doing in their schedule would not allow them to focus in the way that Fremantle has wanted them to, although I don’t know that specifically. It seems like we’re on a path to get this on track to a definite season 2.”