Though The Walking Dead is one of TV’s biggest success stories, being its showrunner has been a short-time gig for everyone so far. The Hollywood Reporter says Scott Gimple will take over for Glen Mazzara, fired after a season that saw the show draw record ratings.
Gimple has written some great episodes, including “Pretty Much Dead Already.” I won’t spoil the ending here if you’re still catching up, but it’s a heart wrencher. That ep is one of the best in the series, and stands out even more in an admittedly slow paced second season. Mazzara’s dismissal comes as a head scratcher, considering he took a show that was losing steam and propelled it to its highest ratings yet. This firing would have been high-profile under any circumstances. But AMC is gaining a reputation among showrunners as not being the best place to work. It has also had extremely contentious negotiations with the showrunners on Breaking Bad and Mad Men, its other two biggest shows.
Sons of Anarchy showrunner Kurt Sutter, who worked with Mazzara on The Shield, has been a vocal defender. He says cable networks traditionally give creative people more freedom than broadcast, but AMC hasn’t done so. Sutter also believes AMC has given too much control over the show to Robert Kirkman, creator of the comic book this show is based on. AMC has refused comment, while Kirkman fired back saying Sutter should stop ranting on things he doesn’t know about.
Frank Darabont, co-creator of the The Walking Dead TV adaptation, got the boot after season one. He’s been quiet on the issue, but reports leaked that AMC wanted to cut the budget. Here’s hoping the onscreen drama doesn’t suffer from all the offscreen drama. The Walking Dead has become appointment television for about 10 million viewers. Don’t blow this, AMC.