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Today in Tom Hanks: Tom Hanks producing Neil Gaiman's American Gods, playing with old action figures

Hollywood is a town that exists in the twinkle of Tom Hanks’ eye, and that benevolent gaze is particularly bright this morning: Hanks’ Playtone Productions has confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that it is moving forward on three big projects, none of which have anything to do with World War II. As we reported earlier, the group is working on a big-screen adaptation of the Green Day-goes-Broadway musical American Idiot for 2013, but it’s likely to be preceded by Major Matt Mason, a film based on the Mattel astronaut action figure that Hanks used to play with as a boy, before his playtimes became $100 million affairs.

Mason has been in development since 2009, making it one of the first toy-to-film adaptations in what is quickly becoming its own genre, and could end up reuniting Hanks with his Forrest Gump and Polar Express director Robert Zemeckis. As we’ve seen lately, Zemeckis has tentatively reentered the world of the living after spending several years manipulating motion-captured simulacra, but given that Hanks mentioned a while back that Mason could be a mix of both live-action and animation, perhaps the film could be a sop to Zemeckis’ addiction, like a movie version of methadone.

Perhaps more interesting to our readers, however, is the announcement that Playtone will be behind the previously announced adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for HBO, and that with the production company’s involvement, they’re doing it up appropriately huge. Playtone is now prepared to produce at least six seasons of the show, with a budget of nearly $40 million per season, all to make room for the effects-heavy renditions of gods both ancient and contemporary—more effects than have been used on a television series before, according to Hanks’ production partner Gary Goetzman.

But unlike certain other people, they’re not waiting for some sort of magical new technology to do it, with plans for American Gods to debut on HBO in 2013 (although that’s at the earliest). And before all that, of course, Larry Crowne—which Hanks co-wrote, directed, and stars in—debuts on July 1, when it will once more shape the national mood by reaffirming that it’s never too late to begin to live your life and try to fuck your community college professor. And Hanks will look down on his creation and see that it is good.

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