'Walking Dead': AMC Execs Fly to Set, Fired Showrunner Frank Darabont Shops New Series (Exclusive)
AMC president Charlie Collier and head of original programming Joel Stillerman on Thursday flew to Atlanta for a one-day visit to the production offices of The Walking Dead, where they met with a cast and crew roiled by the abrupt firing of showrunner Frank Darabont.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a source says Darabont is shopping an hour-long drama series that would mark his return to television. The unspecified project has attracted interest from more than one bidder.
Sources say the Walking Dead cast and crew have been unhappy since late July, when they were summoned to a lunch meeting with AMC vp scripted programming Ben Davis, who confirmed that Darabont was out. A source says some on the production of the hit zombie drama had been asking that Collier or another high-level AMC executive "go and own up to this, and they delayed for the last week." The network confirms to The Hollywood Reporter that Collier and Stillerman were on set on Thursday and returned to their New York offices the same day.
As reported by THR, many of those working on AMC's highest-rated show were dismayed after Darabont was dismissed following a July 22 promotional appearance at Comic-Con. One insider said the cast and crew were stunned "at the duplicity of AMC" for using Darabont to promote the show just before firing him.
There had been a significant cut in the per-episode budget imposed on the show's second season before it premiered last Halloween. Darabont's hopes that AMC would reconsider the depth of those cuts in light of the show's success were eventually dashed. There was also said to be tension between Darabont and Stillerman over AMC's cost-saving suggestions, including shooting more scenes indoors.
Since Darabont was fired, there has been chatter on the set about the cast and crew possibly staging a work stoppage in protest. The agencies representing the show's creative talent have urged them not to walk out, and no work stoppage has occurred.
The nature of Collier and Stillerman’s interaction with the cast and crew is not known, nor is the involvement of Glen Mazzara, who took over as showrunner for Darabont.