July 26, 2011 6:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'The Walking Dead': Showrunner Frank Darabont Stepping Down
Just days after taking the stage and speaking with reporters at Comic-Con, Frank Darabont’s days as showrunner on AMC’s The Walking Dead have come to an end.
Sources confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Darabont, the creator, executive producer and director of the zombie hit based on the comics by Robert Kirkman, is stepping down as showrunner. Whether the former feature film director will stay on with the series remains unclear.
After the drama’s six-episode first season wrapped, Darabont toyed with the idea of using freelancers to script the series, but nixed that plan and opted to hire a full writing staff, with Glen Mazzara brought in to serve as Darabont’s No. 2.
“This year we have a room full of writers who know the show now as fans of it, having seen the first little half season, they came into the room going wow, we get to do The Walking Dead,” Darabont said during the Friday session in San Diego. “The first six episodes, nobody knew what the hell we were doing. … It was an unknown quantity as a TV show.”
Darabont gave no indication that he was considering stepping down during his panel at Comic-Con, noting that conversations were currently under way to cast three major roles for the upcoming second season.
In late May, however, Darabont told THR that he feared budget cuts would hurt the series but he had no other creative complaints at the time.
“Creatively I have no complaints thus far,” Darabont said at the time. “But I believe if they do move ahead with what they’re talking about [with budget cuts], 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?”
Season 2 of The Walking Dead premieres Sunday, Oct. 16 at 9 p.m.
UPDATE: AMC confirms Darabont will be replaced by Mazzara. The net will "continue to discuss [Darabont's] ongoing role with the series.