“YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE MOTHERFUCKING SCRIPT!”
The Walking Dead was not an easy project for Frank Darabont to take on. As you know, during Season 2 of the series, he was fired for "erratic and unprofessional performance" as a showrunner. The guy apparently went ballistic on his Walking Dead team because of their incompetence. He was trying to make an incredible show, but according to him, he was just being held back by the by the executives at AMC and his team.
There's currently a $280-million lawsuit going on against AMC because he wasn't paid in full for the second season of The Walking Dead. He also claims he didn’t get his rightful percentage of licensing fees. He believes that the studio licensed the show to the network at a ridiculously low rate so people like him wouldn’t get the money they were owed.
This lawsuit has brought several emails to the surface that shed some light on what Darabont was going through during his time on The Walking Dead. It's not a pretty picture. AMC puts all the blame on Darabont saying he "was quite bad at his job." AMC had "grave concerns" as they went into Season 2 of the show and they say that Darabont’s management of the show “was so poorly handled that we gauged them to be jeopardizing the enterprise itself and certainly the long-term sustainability and success of that series."
Part of Darabont's stress came from the network cutting the budget of the show by almost half a million dollars per episode between Season 1 and 2. That was Darabont's concern, and to try to make it work with the new budget he was given, Darabont set the whole second season in the farmhouse location. He was forced into a situation where he had to do more, but with less money. This became overwhelming and he let his team know how he felt. This is an email he sent to executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and others about a month before he was fired:
"Fuck you all for giving me chest pains because of the staggering fucking incompetence, blindness to the important beats, and the beyond-arrogant lack of regard for what is written being exhibited on set every day. I deserve better than a heart attack because people are too stupid to read a script and understand the words. Does anybody disagree with me? Then join the C-cam operator and go find another job that doesn’t involve deliberately fucking up my show scene by scene."
Damn! I read that and I understand why AMC felt they needed to let him go. But, having been in a similar situation, when you're forced into a corner like he was, it's not easy to constrain yourself and your feelings. Yes, it could have been handled differently. His rage over the situation obviously got the better of him. He then went on to threaten to kill people, which probably isn't the best tactic:
“I am in a state of boiling rage right now. Everybody especially our directors better wake the f— up and pay attention or I will start killing people and throwing bodies out the door.”
In another email Darabont targeted his anger at two writers on the show, saying he should have "hunted them down and f—ing killed them with a brick, then gone and burned down their homes."
Whoa! Things were obviously getting pretty intense. It's not ok to threaten people's lives over a TV show. When talking about his writer's room he said:
"Please let’s stop invoking ‘the writers room’ ... There IS no writers room, which you know as well as I do. I am the writers room. The fucking lazy assholes who were supposedly going to be my showrunners threw that responsibility on me after wasting five months of my time."
AMC’s lawyer says that these emails and his behavior on set are part of the reasons why he was fired. Some of the other things included failure to deliver his scripts in on time and properly supervise the writer's room, which he obviously didn't care for. Darabont stands by his emails, though, saying:
"Each of these emails was sent because a ‘professional’ showed up whose laziness, indifference, or incompetence threatened to sink the ship of production and added unfair and unnecessary burden to their colleagues in the cast and crew… My tone was the result of the stress and magnitude of this extraordinary crisis. The language and hyperbole of my emails were harsh, but so were the circumstances. As for the enormous problems they describe, I stand by these emails to the last detail."
Things are certainly getting dirty in the lawsuit. I can understand Darabont's frustration. I think a lot of us can because we may have been in similar situations, just not with a show as big as The Walking Dead. However, there was probably a better way to handle the situation than lashing out and threatening the lives of his team members. Craziness.
What do you think of this whole thing?