Press release from FremantleMedia North America, April 3, 2018:
FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) today announced it has won the rights to Mervyn Peake’s gothic fantasy book series, Gormenghast. Hailed as one of the great works of 20th century British literature, Gormenghast has received widespread acclaim and has been translated into more than 20 languages.
With numerous companies competing for the project, FMNA ultimately secured the rights to all five books within the series, from literary agent Jonathan Sissons at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop, on behalf of the Peake estate.
Attached to the project are award-winning author Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Norse Mythology, Coraline) and Academy Award-winning writer, producer and director, Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man), who will serve as non-writing executive producers. Academy Award-winning Barry Spikings (The Deer Hunter, Lone Survivor) will also serve as an executive producer, along with David A. Stern (Howards End, The Last Tycoon), who was instrumental in bringing this deal together.
“There is nothing in literature like Mervyn Peake’s remarkable Gormenghast novels,” said Neil Gaiman. “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.”
“Luminaries like Mervyn Peake and my old friend Neil Gaiman are more than good company to keep,” said Akiva Goldsman. “I am grateful to Barry Spikings for the will, and FremantleMedia for the capacity, to help us bring the sprawling glory of Gormenghast to a modern audience.”
“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,” said Dante Di Loreto, President of Scripted Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America. “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.”
“We are tremendously excited by the prospect of seeing the Gormenghast books realized for television,” said Fabian Peake, son of Mervyn and executor of the Peake estate. “This venture presents a unique opportunity to explore the imagination of a multi-faceted artist.”
The Gormenghast series traces the life of Titus Groan, our hero and the 77th Earl of Groan. The series begins with his birth and follows him throughout his complex life. Titus is a reluctant heir to the Earldom, but one who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom, unless the toxically charismatic, Steerpike, is able to rise above his kitchen boy station to take control of the House of Groan. What follows is an extended fight to the death for Gormenghast itself. Titus comes to realize that the fortress isn’t simply a castle stifled by traditions, it’s a legacy that provides him with the foundations to survive and thrive in the world outside the castle walls. The fantastical world of Gormenghast is full of rich storylines encompassing a doomed lord, an emergent hero, and a dazzling array of bizarre creatures.
FremantleMedia is a leading producer of supremely engaging dramas with productions in 12 territories around the world. This past year, FMNA’s critically acclaimed American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel, was STARZ’s No. 1 launch of its season and returns to the network in 2019 for a second season.
Neil Gaiman is the author of the New York Times best-selling American Gods, Norse Mythology, The View from the Cheap Seats, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, Neverwhere, and The Sandman series of graphic novels, among other works. His fiction has received Newbery, Carnegie, Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Will Eisner Awards. In addition, Gaiman has written and is the showrunner for a mini-series of Good Omens, based on the book he co-authored with Terry Pratchett, airing in 2019.
Akiva Goldsman is a renowned film and television writer, director and producer. He received Academy, Golden Globe and Writers Guild of America awards for the film A Beautiful Mind. Goldsman’s television credits include Fringe, for which he won a Saturn and Hugo Award, in addition to serving as an executive producer on Star Trek: Discovery.
Barry Spikings is best known as a producer of the 1978 film, The Deer Hunter, which won five Academy Awards. Spikings also served as a producer on the films Lone Survivor and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
David A. Stern is the co-founder of both Sleeping Giant Films and KippSter Entertainment. He serves as the executive producer on Howards End (BBC One/STARZ), an adaptation of the literary masterpiece by EM Forster which premiered in the UK to seven million viewers, and also served as the executive producer on the Amazon drama, The Last Tycoon.