When we first heard that Frank Darbont was no longer a part of the AMC hit TV series The Walking Dead, We had very little information to go off of. It was revealed at the time that he simply stepped down as the zombie series showrunner, with reports saying that he grew tired of the daily commitment of running the series. Apparently that wasn't the case, and I think we all knew something more sinister was going on behind the scenes, and it was.
Frank Darabont did not step down, AMC fired him. It looked like everything was going great at Comic-Con this year. Darabont showed up to promote the the series, of course at the time he had no idea what was brewing in the background, and that three days later he would be fired. Him leaving the show shocked the hell out of everyone, especially since The Walking Dead was the networks biggest freakin' hit ever!
According to the report from THR, "the cast was summoned to a lunch meeting with AMC vp scripted programming Ben Davis, who confirmed that Darabont was out. The crew was briefed separately. One insider says those gathered were stunned at the duplicity of AMC for having used Darabont to promote the show at Comic-Con before firing him. And they were angry about the lack of explanation; they were simply told, cryptically, This isn't working. Above all, they were disheartened. ‘It's a crushing blow,’ says the insider. ‘Even when you have a hit, they can still destroy you."
Darabont was replaced with executive producer Glen Mazzara, but letting Darabont go was a huge mistake. It’s been proven that he was always the real brains behind the show. Sources say that "Darabont was an integral part of a lightning-in-a-bottle formula that had been working. Everybody loves Frank and has had an amazing experience. He's brilliant, and we want him there." Members of the crew feel the same way saying, "Frank's fingerprints are all over every single aspect of the show. How are we going to do this without Frank?"
This just seems crazy! Darabont won't talk about it with the press and has been very silent about what all went down. But letting him go is going to cost them. They had a hit show on their hands, firing Darabont is just the beginning of the show going down in flames. It sounds like things on the set are very tense right now as well, it doesn't sound like the best work environment. We've heard nothing from the cast about it, but a source close to the situation says that "AMC has been 'terrorizing' them and their representatives to discourage them from speaking out on Darabont's behalf. 'They're scared,' confirms another insider. 'They're on a zombie show. They are all really easy to kill off.'
Wow! Can you believe this?! The more I go the more pissed off I get, and there’s more! This just seems crazy! As we reported earlier AMC issued a statement after Darabont was dismissed, expressing gratitude for his "innumerable" contributions to the show. Asked to comment on criticism for the handling of his departure, a spokesperson said, "We have nothing further to add." Did Darabont just royally piss someone off at the network?
It sounds like maybe AMC just can’t handle all of the hit shows that it has. THR points out that the network has also "become embroiled in messy public fights with the creators of its top three shows" such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Several sources involved with these shows are also saying that "AMC does not seem ready to handle its success. It feels like they don't have the experience of being on top. They're total ball-busters, and that pisses people off."
It looks like AMC is starting to fall apart, if the network continues to make it difficult for talent to work with them then why would they want to keep working with them. AMC is on top right now with some great shows, but where will they be in two or three years if they can't keep their shit together and their talent happy?
It's been speculated that one of the main reason why Frank was let go was because he was fighting for the shows talent. AMC cut the budget of the second season drastically, an inside says that "Frank doesn't like to see the cast and crew overworked and underpaid... he fought a constant battle to keep the show big in scope and style." In a previous interview Darabont addressed these budget cuts saying, "Creatively, I have no complaints thus far. But I believe if they do move ahead with what they're talking about, it will affect the show creatively … in a negative way. Which just strikes me as odd. If you have an asset, why would you punish it?"
AMC has definitely dealt a punishing blow to the series, both financially and creatively... they've made some dumbass decisions, and there’s no doubt that it will come back and bite them in the ass.
The report goes on to say that that one of the other reason Darabont was probably let go was because AMC's head of original programming, Joel Stillerman thinks that he's the reason that the show is successful, and not the talent that was hired to bring it to life. What the hell!?? But it's not surprising for a big TV executive to have a giant ego. According to a source "Joel thinks he is responsible for the success of shows on AMC, and not the creators, This person blames Stillerman for the decision to fire Darabont. (Stillerman also has a strained relationship with Mad Men's Weiner, who declines to speak to him.)" So I guess there were some jealousy issues as well.
I'm fascinated by what is going on behind the scenes of The Walking Dead, unfortunately it looks like it's going to kill a perfectly awesome show. What do you think about this madness?