Posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2021 by
Hollywood has fully jumped on board the Neil Gaiman bandwagon lately and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. Amazon, after inking him to an overall deal years ago that somewhat surprisingly allowed, is continuing to go all-in on the author.
Anansi Boys, based on Gaiman’s 2005 fantasy novel, has been ordered to series for a six episode run and will begin production later this year in Scotland after well over a year in development. And despite the source material featuring direct connections, this will have nothing to do with the Starz series American Gods.
Via, Gaiman will be joined by a familiar face with Douglas Mackinnon, who directed each of the six episodes of Good Omens’ first season and will be sharing co-showrunner duties with Gaiman on Anansi Boys. In addition, Gaiman will also split writing duties with Lenny Henry, Arvind Ethan David, Kara Smith, and Racheal Ofori.
Gaiman adaptations aren’t always fully beholden to the source material, purposefully changing and shifting specific elements as necessary for a different medium. This series will likely follow suit, thoughprovides a handy synopsis for his Anansi Boys novel, so you can expect it to follow this general outline:
When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie.” Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed – before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.
Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie’s doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who’s going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun … just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.
Because, you see, Charlie’s dad wasn’t just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.
Check out the official poster below.
Spin-off or Not?
Before fans get their hopes up that this may be an official sequel or spin-off to the Starz series American Gods, which also featured the character of Mr. Nancy (also known as Anansi, a trickster god in African and Caribbean folklore), Amazon takes pains to explain that this will be a standalone and self-contained story, as “the book’s story was originally developed in conversation between Gaiman and [Lenny] Henry with the series adaptation reuniting the collaboration between the pair.”
celebrating the news, Gaiman shares the story of how he and longtime friend Lenny Henry conceived of Anansi Boys back in the mid-1990s and the long, winding road it took to become a proper novel. For those who may not be familiar with it, Gaiman helpfully includes his own quote from back in 2005 when he described his intentions with the book:
My new novel is a scary, funny sort of story, which isn’t exactly a thriller, and isn’t really horror, and doesn’t quite qualify as a ghost story (although it has at least one ghost in it), or a romantic comedy (although there are several romances in there, and it’s certainly a comedy, except for the scary bits). If you have to classify it, it’s probably a magical-horror-thriller-ghost-romantic-comedy-family-epic, although that leaves out the detective bits and much of the food.
In a disappointing bit of insight into the typical Hollywood process, Gaiman also reveals that he previously received an offer to adapt the story…but that diversity in the cast wouldn’t exactly be a priority. As he tells it: “A top Hollywood director wanted to buy the rights to Anansi Boys, but when he told me that he planned to make all the characters white, I declined to sell it. It was going to be done properly or not at all.”
Gaiman’s official statement is as follows:
“Anansi Boys began around 1996, from a conversation I had with Lenny Henry about writing a story that was diverse and part of the culture that we both loved. Anansi Boys as a TV series has been a long time coming — I first started working with Endor and Red on making it over a decade ago. We needed Amazon Prime to come on board and embrace our vision, we needed a lead director with the craft and vision of Hanelle Culpepper, we needed the creative and technical wizardry of Douglas Mackinnon (who worked out how we could push the bounds of the possible to shoot a story set all over the world in a huge studio outside Edinburgh), and we needed the rest of the amazing talents that nobody knows about yet. We are trying to make a new kind of show with Anansi Boys, and to break ground with it to make something that celebrates and rejoices in diversity both in front of and behind the camera. I’m so thrilled it’s happening and that people will be meeting Mr. Nancy, Charlie and Spider, the Bird Woman and the rest of them.”
There is no word yet on a scheduled premiere date, but the next few months are sure to be filled with casting and filming updates.
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