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Key man behind ‘The Walking Dead’, Frank Darabont, steps away as showrunner

Publicity shot for the upcoming season. CREDIT: AMC

Publicity shot for the upcoming season. CREDIT: AMC

Frank Darabont, the mastermind behind “The Walking Dead” TV series, has stepped down as showrunner, the equivalent of the baseball manager quitting, according to Deadline.com

It’s not clear what his role may be now for this critical and popular zombie drama set in Atlanta season one and shot here. Deadline.com speculates that Darabont, who has done feature films in the past such as “The Shawshank Redemption,” may have not adjusted well to the fast pace of TV. If this is true, it was not obvious when he appeared a few days ago at Comic Con.

AMC is bringing on Glen Mazzara, a veteran of “The Shield,” to take his place. He has been working with “Dead” since late 2010. We’ll see whether Darabont’s departure will impact the quality of the show.

Darabont was considered the heart and soul of the show, who worked tirelessly for years to get Robert Kirkman’s graphic comic onto the TV screen. I’ll update this once Mazzara speaks at today’s Television Critics Association gathering in Pasadena. (Nope, I’m not there. I’ll just have to take it from those who are.)

Based on the four-minute trailer released last week, the show begins moments after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention went kablooey in Atlanta (or what we here really know is the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.) Their departure is stopped by what is really the deadliest of traffic jams. There is talk of splintering and there are plenty of zombies wandering around as well. At some point, they end up at a farm with some interesting non-zombie characters.

The show returns October 16.

[UPDATE: August 2, 2011: Intriguing bit of news here. AMC is trying to cut costs and has trimmed the per-episode budget for "The Walking Dead" by a fairly hefty $250,000. This LA Times story says people close to the show deny this had anything to do with Darabont's departure though it sure would make sense.]

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

3 comments Add your comment

Kennesaw Dave

July 28th, 2011
2:57 pm

Definitely going to tune in.

kreedham

July 29th, 2011
12:49 am

Rho, I know you’ve mentioned it before but what is the return date?

Rodney Ho

July 29th, 2011
8:19 am

The show returns October 16.