Did you know that The Walking Dead is the only original show that AMC owns? As for the networks two other big hits Lionsgate owns Mad Men, and Sony owns Breaking Bad. So it was all the more strange when Walking Dead co-creator, writer, producer, and series pilot director Frank Darabont got the boot.
Fans have been in uproar after the seemly devious use of Darabont at this years Comic Con to promote the show and then sack him just three days later. According to The Hollywood Reporter crew “insiders” have defended Darabont as an auteur trapped in the strict and marathon paced world of TV. Supposedly he saw the breakneck speed in which the just six episode first season was produced overworked the talent and crew while sacrificing the show’s creative edge. In a roundtable discussion with THR Darabont said, “…I believe if they move ahead with what they’re talking about, it will affect the show creatively…in a negative way. Which strikes me as odd. If you have an asset, why would you punish it?”
Perhaps it’s because The Walking Dead is to date the highest rated show in AMC’s short history of original programming. Feeling confident in the fan base the show had built, the network has since sought to cut the budget of the second season while doubling the number of episodes-which was also fought by Darabont-and claim the 30% tax credit per episode for shooting in Georgia for itself. Production on the first season was rife with dispute as Darabont desired a larger scope than the comparatively cheaper productions for shows like Mad Men.
It is now believed that Darabont was being watched by AMC head of programming Joel Stillerman for an ideal time to cut him. THR claims that Darabont was salvaging unusable footage from an early episode of the second season helmed by a agreed upon and reliable director. The blame was supposedly dropped on Darabont and he has since been replaced by executive producer Glen Mazzara. Whether or not the show will survive without Darabont, it’s quality will suffer, or greater changes will come from the decision will be decided in October when season two premieres.