Source: THR | Posted By: Dan Geer
The cast and crew of The Walking Dead, as well as the fans of the show were stunned to receive the news that Frank Darabont would no longer be showrunner for the series. After all, he was the biggest reason the show got off the ground in the first place and became the success that it was in its first season. At the time the news was reported, no one knew the reason for his departure, and speculation suggested that maybe his feature-film background made him unaccustomed to the fast-paced momentum of producing a TV series.
THR reports that during the first season of The Walking Dead, AMC had decided that the budget would be reduced for the second season to more reflect a typical budget for a 13-episode TV series, going from $3.4 million per episode to $2.75 million. But since this was before AMC realized just how big of a hit the show would be (it was the network’s most viewed series, drawing in 5.3 million viewers for the pilot episode, and 6 million for the season finale), members of the cast and crew assumed that adjustments would be made to better reflect what the show clearly deserved.
As the second season went underway this past June, things seemed to be going smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, that there were no signs of anything crazy happening when cast and crew members attended San Diego Comic-Con’s Walking Dead panel. Frank Darabont was there, and seemed just as giddy as ever about the show. Three days later, he was fired while working on salvaging unusable footage from a second season episode.
In the end, it came down to a matter of money, and AMC didn’t want to budge on the budget they established for the second season – a budget that Darabont publicly stated would negatively affect the show. In turn, they felt they couldn’t afford to appease Darabont‘s budgetary and filming demands, and decided to let him go and replace him with Glen Mazzara, who was Darabont‘s right-hand man on the series.
Unlike AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad, both of which are owned by outside studios, The Walking Dead is solely owned by AMC. An unidentified source on the show said that, if The Walking Dead was also owned by an outside studio, the producers might have had better luck in battling with AMC to keep Darabont and a suitable production budget for their surprisingly successful TV series. But alas, this is not the case.
Obviously, the actors involved with the show are now fearing that they could just as easily be killed off the show in favor of actors AMC deems more affordable (they point out that this is a real possibility, since it is a zombie show and characters get killed all the time). It could just as well be the case with A-List members of the crew. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but I’m figuring it is only a matter of time before more crap hits the fan.
But thankfully, Glen Mazzara is a seasoned veteran of showrunning, and one that Darabont seemed to confide in during production of the series. Not only that, but Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is still involved, as is legendary effects artist Greg Nicotero. The show still has a good chance of continuing its success. But it seems that since AMC is fairly new at producing TV series and doesn’t really understand how to handle the success (there have been financial feuds with Mad Men and Breaking Bad as well), it is going to be an uphill battle for the creative minds behind The Walking Dead to keep the quality of the show in tact.
Head on over to THR for the full story.