The second season of American Gods was halted in its tracks late last year when it was announced executive producers and co-showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green would be departing the visually stunning Starz series. However, the network is now clarifying that they are not leaving the series, their roles are merely shifting, while Neil Gaiman, who wrote the beloved novel upon which the series is based and who served as an executive producer on the first season, will take on a larger role.
"Neil Gaiman will take more of a central role and [be] moving forward into a traditional showrunner function," Starz boss Chris Albrecht told reporters during the Television Critics Association winter press tour Friday. "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."
Upon further questioning, Albrecht elaborated on why Fuller and Green decided to step back from the series, clarifying that they were neither fired nor did they quit, but that there were concerns about both budget and being able to produce the series on a timeline that was beneficial to production company Freemantle, Starz and the audience.
"Budget is always a factor, although Freemantle has been really terrific in being willing to invest. I think this is about, is there a vision that can be executed on a regular basis?" Albrect said. "Obviously [it's] not ideal to have 18 months or two years in between seasons, especially given how competitive ... the world has become. I think Fremantle needs to know that there's a formula where they can get this show on. We'd like to have the same thing as well. The things that Bryan and Michael have been doing haven't allowed them to focus the way Fremantle has wanted them. Although, I don't know that specifically, but given everything that's going on it seems like we're finally on a path to get this on track to a definite Season 2."
Albrect also noted that Fuller and Green will still be involved in the series but that negotiations are still ongoing as to what their exact roles with the show will be.
"Bryan and Michael will be involved as much as they can be. It's a little bit up in the air as to what their exact role will be. A lot of that is between Freemantle and Neil and Bryan and Michael, because this is one of those shows that we do through a studio," Albrecht said. "We're not in direct negotiations with the actual executive producers and the people working on the show. That goes through our partners. It's a big show, it's a monster show. It has faced many of the challenges that terrific, complex premium shows face in trying to get successive seasons, especially when art comes before commerce."
As for reported cast exits, Albrecht says they are not as dire as what's been reported. "There's been some confusion on the cast exits. Gillian Anderson seems to be leaving everything, but this is not a surprise. We knew that she was not necessarily going to be able to come back," he said. "But Kristen Chenoweth, as far as we all know, is still committed to the show, obviously depending on her availability."
Season 1 of American Gods is currently available on the Starz App.