Some shows just can’t hold their showrunners.
It seems like only yesterday that Frank Darabont was summarily fired by AMC as the showrunner of “The Walking Dead.” Now we’re hearing that his successor, the amazing Glen Mazzara, will be stepping down as showrunner by the end of the third season.
At first the split was being publicized as an amicable parting of ways. But considering that’s also how the network chose to publicize Darabont’s “resignation”, we smelled a rat. And so of course, it turns out there is much more to the story of Mazzara’s departure from “The Walking Dead.” In fact, it looks like Mazzara is only leaving the show because TWD creator Robert Kirkman made him.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mazzara is being forced to leave the show because Kirkman disagreed Mazzara’s plans for the story. From THR:
“Several insiders confirm that Kirkman, whose detailed graphic novels form the basis of the series, is ‘very proprietary,’ as one puts it. One adds, ‘I believe Robert wants to maintain a certain amount of his control, and AMC needs Robert for the fan base.'”
On the one hand, it’s nice to hear about a comic book creator retaining enough creative and executive control over the television adaptation of their work to be able to have such influence. It’s fairly rare for a writer to have that kind of power in TV and movies. On the other hand… really?
Many fans were worried about what would happen to the quality of the show without Frank Darabont. I think I can speak for most TWD fans when I say that Mazzara rose admirably to the challenge, exceeded expectations, and made this most recent season the most breathtaking yet. But now he’s getting the boot.
Despite fan perception, there might be a deeper reason even beyond Kirkman’s protective view on his creation. THR also reported:
“But despite the vitriol, some sources involved with Walking Dead say Kirkman was one of several producers on the show who had issues with Mazzara and his vision. One source says Mazzara’s shortcomings in running the series during the most recent third season became ‘abundantly clear … especially for the second half of the season.’ This source says production was shut down ‘several times’ because of a lack of material.”
So it sounds like Mazzara was kicked off the show either because of artistic differences with Kirkman, or because he was inept at running the show, or perhaps some combination of the two.
At this time, there is no indication of who will take over as showrunner of “The Walking Dead.” But considering the management of this series is trending toward battlefield promotions, we’re guessing they might be short on volunteers.
We are the walking dead: Given the overwhelming success of “The Walking Dead” and AMC’s contentious history with showrunners, we’ll be following this story closely. What do you think Glen Mazzara stepping down could mean for “The Walking Dead”? Share your thoughts in a comment below.
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