Fans were shocked when they found out that the departure of Frank Darabont after the wildly successful first season of AMC’s The Walking Dead was in fact a firing. People weren’t thrilled, and the cast was evidently bothered by the situation, with rumors swirling of threats by the network that any one of them could easily be killed off on this particular show if they spoke up in support of Darabont and against AMC.
Judging by how good the show has been since then, taking a path more faithful to the ultra-popular source comic series by Robert Kirkman, it’s debatable whether or not removing Darabont was ultimately a good move or not. Most of us will likely never know how differently things played out compared to however they may have been planned earlier.
But then came word that Glen Mazzara—the man who stepped into the role of showrunner after the firing of Darabont—was stepping down from his position in an eerily similar fashion to Darabont’s departure, instantly emitting a distinctly fishy odor. Now comes word, as many of us had already assumed, that Mazzara too was fired. But why was he fired? New information may hold the answer.
The Walking Dead is not the only AMC series that has seen behind-the-scenes drama ooze from its crevices. Similar issues have arisen with other hit shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men as well. This has not gone unnoticed.
Fellow showrunners Shawn Ryan (creator of Last Resort) and Kurt Sutter (creator of Sons of Anarchy) both worked with Mazzara on one of Ryan’s previous shows, The Shield, and they’ve spoke out about the way things have unfolded.
Ryan took to the Twitter to say this:
Common knowledge that AMC cut Breaking Bad shorter than it should have been. Now you have creative differences w/ biggest hit’s savior?
With FX, Showtime, HBO, Starz, Cinemax, A&E, TNT and others to sell to, it’s a real question now why good show runners should sell to AMC?"
Sutter, in much less subtle fashion, tweeted:
"AMC sent me a gift basket filled with sour tastes, forbidden fruit, broken promises and the marinated tongue used to lick kirkman’s ass."
Now, you may wonder what Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has to do with all of this. It’s not 100% known yet. But there is word that Kirkman may be a major reason that Mazzara was given his walking papers…at least according to some inside sources that is.
Said inside sources have told The Hollywood Reporter that Kirkman is “very protective” of his work (as most any of us would be) with another source saying “I believe Robert wants to maintain a certain amount of his control, and AMC needs Robert for the fan base.” It’s also being said that it was not only Kirkman, but multiple producers who had issues with Mazzara, with one source saying the showrunner’s issues became “abundantly clear” during production on the third season of the show, especially when it came to the second half of the season, where production was forced to shut down on multiple occasions due to a lack of material.
This may not bode well for fans of the series, as that very same season three is only half way done, and that very same troubled second half of the season is set to begin airing come February. Were they able to make some magic happen and deliver an acceptable conclusion to season three? Or will there be a noticeable drop off in quality?
As for Sutter’s comments, Kirkman responded, saying:
“@sutterink is brilliant and Sons is my favorite show on TV. Still, it’s upsetting to see him ranting about things he knows nothing about.
Except that marinated tongue thing… That thing is awesome.”
After cooling down a bit, Sutter took to YouTube to speak at length about his feelings on AMC and their general issues with showrunners, the The Walking Dead situation—as someone who was angered by the removal of both Darabont and Mazzara—and the pros and cons of being a showrunner. You can check those thoughts out in part one and part two of his video.
All of that said, we’re left with no solid answers. It’s truly remarkable the veritable circus act that the production of The Walking Dead has become, and yet still it remains to miraculously be one of the best and highest rated shows on TV…for now. We shall see how the remainder of season three plays out, and how the show progresses from there.
All I know is, whenever The Walking Dead comes to an end, there damn well better a tell-all book or documentary released so we know how everything really went down. Something tells me there’s stories to be told that all of our ears are eager to hear.
What are your thoughts on this madness? What do you think is really going on, and who do you think is to blame?