I just read a second-hand blog report that some studio asked Neil Gaiman about adapting Anansi Boys into a movie.
He turned them down.
Why? Well, apparently...
1. They wanted to make all the main characters American, rather than British.
2. They wanted to make the main characters Caucasian, rather than Black.
3. They wanted to get rid of all the gods.
Now just in case you haven't read Anansi Boys - which you should do, as it is brilliant - it centers around a man of African heritage - an American moved to England named Fat Charlie, who finds out that his recently deceased father was Anansi, the African Spider god of tricks and stories. Most of the characters in the story are of African heritage. A good number of them are Brits. And two or three characters are gods or are being posessed by one.
So setting the whole thing in America with an all-white cast and no gods is a bit like saying you will make Harry Potter. But the story will take place in Kansas. And everyone will be a Native American. And we're taking out all of the magic.
UPDATE: By request of the fearsome Ragnell the Foul, here is the original article link and the exact quote.
"When Anansi Boys first came out, we got a number of very big directors going after it and all of them basically ended up saying the same thing, which was they had real problems with a story as black people as leads in a fantasy movie. They just loved the story… could they just lose all the fantasy elements? They’d want a guy and his long lost brother and their shady father and… but you can’t. It’s one of those strange moments when you go “I don’t know if it’s racist or if it’s just stupid…” and probably more stupid than it is racist, but…"