3:44pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Creator: "No Storylines Were Changed" in Wake of Stuntman's Death
While production on AMC's The Walking Dead was briefly shut down following the on-set death of stuntman John Bernecker, series and comic book creator Robert Kirkman said the show's creative will not be impacted.
"No storylines were changed," Kirkman told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "That was a tragic accident. It wasn't story-related. It was a freak accident that happened on set. And it's something that we're dealing with, but it hasn't affected the storyline in any way."
Kirkman was at TCA to support AMC docuseries Visionaries. He was the lone Walking Dead producer on hand after the cable network canceled its planned executive producer panel to discuss the upcoming 100th episode of the zombie drama. Producers including showrunner Scott M. Gimple were instead at Bernecker's funeral Saturday.
The stuntman died July 12 after plunging headfirst from a balcony on the show's Georgia set while attempting a seemingly simple 22-foot fall. Production on season eight was briefly shut down, and multiple investigations are underway.
"They're dealing with it. It's a tragedy. It's something that everyone is dealing with in their own way and something that will continue to stick with us for years to come," Kirkman said of how the cast, creators and production team are handling the tragedy.
Pressed on whether there would be any sort of dedication to Bernecker, Kirkman said that remains unclear. "I don't know at this point — we'll see," he said.
AMC canceled all Walking Dead press opportunities at the recent San Diego Comic-Con save for an autograph signing and its panel, which kicked off with a heartfelt tribute to Bernecker from Gimple. "We didn't know if we should do this panel today. But we wanted to be here for you and do something for John," a somber Gimple said after noting Bernecker's countless credits and how much the stuntman loved his job. "John was someone who was beloved in the stunt community. He was living his dream, and he helped other people do the same."
The Walking Dead is set to return Sunday, Oct. 22, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.