If you follow the television biz at all, you know that AMC’s management has a tendency towards… shall we say, an overly active hand in managing its slate of shows and a tendency to argue about show budgets. The Walking Dead seems to be catching more than its fair share of showrunner vs. AMC disputes and it just lost its SECOND showrunner in 2 years.
Yes, that’s right. Glen Mazzara has left the show after being showrunner/executive producer for seasons 2 and 3. You will recall Frank Darabont was fired off the show after the first season, when he balked at budget cuts. Budget cuts after a pretty impressive debut season. Now Mazzara is leaving as Walking Dead is ruling the cable TV ratings with an iron fist. History suggests the problem is more with AMC than Mazzara, but we do have some quotes floating around and spinning the situation.
“My time as showrunner on The Walking Dead has been an amazing experience, but after I finish season three, it’s time to move on,” Mazzara said in a statement. “I have told the stories I wanted to tell and connected with our fans on a level that I never imagined. It doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey.”
The AMC version:
“Both parties acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion about where the show should go moving forward, and conclude that it is best to part ways. This decision is amicable and Glen will remain on for postproduction on season 3B as showrunner and executive producer,”
And Kirkman’s towing of the party line:
“I am in full support of both AMC and Glen Mazzara in the decision they have come to and believe the parties came to this decision in the best interest of the future of the show,” Kirkman said in a statement. “I thank Glen for his hard work and appreciate his many contributions to The Walking Dead and look forward to working with him as we complete postproduction on season three. I am also excited to begin work on another spectacular season of this show that I know means so much to so many people. This show has always been the result of a wide range of extremely talented men and women working tirelessly to produce their best work collectively. I believe the future is bright for The Walking Dead. Thank you to the fans for your continued support.”
Whatever really happened here, it doesn’t appear to have gotten as ugly as when Darabont exited. Everyone’s still talking and they’ve coordinated their stories. Now, they _are_ trying to bury this by releasing the news on the Friday before Christmas, but that’s to be expected. Let’s just say AMC has a pretty solid record of not agreeing with their showrunners. The second half of season 3 (season 3b, as such things are referred to) will have the same show staff intact. Season 4′s staff is anyone’s guess at this point. Incidentally, the show was formally renewed for season 4, but that’s not really news. Very few shows with the ratings success of Walking Dead don’t get renewed.
In Doctor Who, they kill off the lead actor and replace him every few years to keep things interesting. Walking Dead seems to be trying to update that practice to showrunners.