8:22am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Companion Series in the Works at AMC
AMC is developing a second companion series to cable's biggest hit, The Walking Dead.
The scripted series will hail from Walking Dead comics creator Robert Kirkman and executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and Dave Alpert, AMC announced Monday.
The new companion series, which like the flagship effort hails from AMC Studios, will tell a brand-new story and feature a new cast of characters and again be based on Kirkman's long-running comics. The spinoff will mark the third effort AMC has tied to the comics and join the flagship series as well as its Chris Hardwick-hosted gabfest The Talking Dead. The series has a target on-air date of 2015.
"Building on the success of the most popular show on television for adults 18-49 is literally a no-brainer," AMC president and GM Charlie Collier said. "We look forward to working with Robert, Gale and Dave again as we develop an entirely new story and cast of characters. It’s a big world and we can’t wait to give fans another unforgettable view of the zombie apocalypse."
For Kirkman, this will mark his latest small-screen project in development, joining AMC's adaptation of his newest comic, Thief of Thieves, and Clone, which is set up at Universal Television. (Worth noting: NBC famously passed on Frank Darabont and Hurd's pitch for what became The Walking Dead.)
"After 10 years of writing the comic book series and being so close to the debut of our fourth, and in my opinion, best season of the TV series, I couldn't be more thrilled about getting the chance to create a new corner of The Walking Dead universe," Kirkman said. “The opportunity to make a show that isn't tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing."
The world of The Walking Dead comics is a big one. In 10 years, the series has featured an untold amount of characters and locations in addition to thousands of the undead. New showrunner Scott Gimple -- a longtime comics fan -- has said that his approach to season four is to take a "remix" of Kirkman's source material -- likely taking advantage of lesser-known characters and putting different fan favorites into familiar scenarios featured in the comics.
The Walking Dead represents cable's biggest drama among total viewers and key demos; its third season finale shattered its own records again. The companion entry comes at a key time for the cable network, which this month will conclude critical favorite Breaking Bad as it is prepping a spinoff prequel (Better Call Saul) from creator Vince Gilligan. The network recently bid The Killing farewell for a second time and next year will close its book on Mad Men.
The cabler also has drama pilots Line of Sight, starring The Walking Dead's David Morrissey, in the works and recently ordered to series 1980s computer drama Halt & Catch Fire, starring Pushing Daisies' Lee Pace, as well as period drama Turn, based on the book Washington's Spies, from Nikita's Craig Silverstein. Freshman cop drama Low Winter Sun has failed to hold on to much of its Breaking Bad lead-in, which doesn't bode well for a second season.
Season four of The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Oct. 13. The Walking Dead is based on the comics created and written by Kirkman and published by Skybound, his imprint at Image Comics.
Hit the comments below with your thoughts on what the spinoff should be.