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Neil Gaiman, Akiva Goldsman To Adapt Novel Series Gormenghast For Television

American Gods author Neil Gaiman and A Beautiful Mind writer Akiva Goldsman have scored a massive new project. 

FremantleMedia North America recently secured the screen rights to British author Mervyn Peake's novel series Gormenghast, and Deadline has announced that Neil Gaiman and Akiva Goldsman are set to adapt the collection for television. 

The outlet notes that FremantleMedia won the rights to five books in a "hotly contested battle" and is currently meeting with potential showrunners, as Gaiman and Goldsman will serve as non-writing executive producers. Barry Spikings (The Deer Hunter) and David Stern (Howards End) will executive produce alongside the duo.

The Gormenghast books center around the inhabitants of the enormous, gothic-like Castle Gormenghast, including the titular Titus, the heir to the House of Groan throne; Lord Sepulchrave, Titus's father; The Countess Gertrude, Titus's mother; Lady Fuchsia Groan, Titus's sister; Steerpike, the highly intelligent schemer who works in the kitchen; and Cora and Clarice, Titus's identical twin aunts.

Gaiman said in a statement at the time of the announcement, "There is nothing in literature like Mervyn Peake's remarkable Gormenghast novels. They were crafted by a master, who was also an artist, and they take us to an ancient castle as big as a city, with heroes and villains and people larger than life that are impossible to forget. There is a reason why there were two trilogies that lovers of the fantasy genre embraced in the Sixties: Lord of the Rings, and the Gormenghast books. It's an honor to have been given the opportunity to help shepherd Peake's brilliant and singular vision to the screen."

Dante Di Loreto, President of Scripted Entertainment at FremantleMedia North America, expressed similar feelings of excitement: "Nothing combines a dark atmosphere with humor and intrigue the way that Gormenghast does. It's one of the most eccentric and vividly imagined universes ever created. We're excited to continue our relationship with Neil and the producing team assembled for this project is ideal to explore the series' perfect mix of humor, pathos, and tragedy."

Fabian Peake, Peake's son and the executor of his estate, added, "We are tremendously excited by the prospect of seeing the Gormenghast books realized for television. This venture presents a unique opportunity to explore the imagination of a multi-faceted artist."

The Gormenghast series began with Titus Groan in 1946, followed by Gormenghast in 1950 and Titus Alone in 1959. A short novella, 1956's Boy in Darkness, is considered a part of the overall collection, though there has been division on its canonical status. Peake, who died in 1968, was working on a fourth novel entitled Titus Awakes before his passing. His widow, the late British painter, sculptor, and writer Maeve Gilmore, completed a version of Titus Awakes in the 1970s. The Peake family rediscovered the work in 2009, and Overlook Press published it as Titus Awakes: The Lost Book of Gormenghast in June 2011 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Peake's birth. 

Gaiman and Goldman's Gormenghast adaptation follows after the BBC translated Titus Groan and Gormenghast into a four-part series in 2000. The project starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Steerpike. 

Gaiman currently serves as the executive producer of the Starz fantasy drama series American Gods, the screen adaptation of his acclaimed novel of the same name. Gormenghast marks Goldsman's most recent high-profile television series, having previously worked on shows like Fringe, Star Trek: Discoveryand Titans.