The Hollywood Reporter Says Frank Darabont Was Fired Off of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD

As we reported last month, writer/director/executive producer Frank Darabont had left the show runner position on The Walking Dead. At the time there was a question as to what his continued role would be on the show that he helped develop for television. Some found the news surprising considering that just days before he was speaking at a Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Some thought that Darabont’s leaving was part of some pre-negotiated deal to exit the show after the first season.

As it turns out, Frank Darabont was fired from the show by an AMC executive. Not only that, but he was fired in the middle of editing an episode. So says The Hollywood Reporter in a new investigative report on the incident.

An anonymous source points the finger at AMC’s head of original programming, Joel Stillerman.

The show went into production on its second season in June. Sources say an early episode came in with footage that was not usable. The director had shot a successful first-season episode and was a mutually agreed-upon choice. Darabont was editing the episode in an effort to fix it but by then, an insider believes, AMC was looking for a pretext. “Joel thinks he is responsible for the success of shows on AMC, and not the creators,” this person says. This person blames Stillerman for the decision to fire Darabont.

According to the report in the article, Darabont left in the middle of his edit, returned with some notes and to send goodbye emails, and has not returned to the production since. Darabont is not speaking to the media.

What actually happened and what transpired between Frank Darabont and Joel Stillerman, we may never know. What does seem fairly certain is that Darabont’s association with The Walking Dead seems to be at an end.

In recent months, AMC has clashed with the producers of its three most high profile shows: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and now The Walking Dead.


  1. AMC seems to be trying very hard to ruin a very good thing.

  2. Unrealistic I know, but perhaps a boycott on all shows to remind AMC that the fans don’t want their shows to be fucked with? Who am I kidding? I NEED to know what happens to Walter this week!!

  3. A Hollywood network executive with a God Complex? SHOCKING! 

    yeah thats really a shame. You keep stripping away the talent from this show, and it won’t be very good anymore. 

  4. Jim linked an article yesterday which may or may not have any credibility. The guy who does Sons of Anarchy complained that AMC was cutting a lot of its high paid staff in order to afford the demands of the Mad Men producers and whatnot. Sounds like a play for attention, but also may have some plausible elements.

  5. The budget for Walking Dead is huge! Around $3 million per episode seems like a lot, especially for a cable series. It’s not surprising that the network would interfere a lot with such a pricey production.

  6. What if it comes back and the second season is just phenomenal?

  7. I think AMC is having a hard time dealing with success overall. The situation with Mad Men was ridiculous and I respect creator Matt Weiner for holding out until they agreed to not cut actors, include more ads, etc.

    I agree, seems more like money call. I just hope this isn’t a sign that Walking Dead is running into issues like HBO’s Rome did with despite being a great show, it was just too expensive to make. Those special fx are amazing, some of the best looking zombies I’ve seen on the screen. Plus anytime you either completely empty out an area or have to use a large soundstage to get the same effect, it has to cost some serious $$$. Apocalypses are expensive!

    I’m just concerned with this latest drama that money is getting in the way of the integrity of AMC’s shows. 

  8. @Jimski  Then I will be a very happy viewer and I’ll want to see the creative team rewarded.

  9. @Jimski  we’re already irrationally angry about backroom decisions.. it can’t possibly be good now.

  10. I really have to “wait and see.” However, I will say this gives me a bad feeling.

  11. What I find really sad is that AMC was doing everything right as far as creating original programming. Every one of these shows has been critically acclaimed; many have been nominated for and won numerous awards (MM at 13 Emmies, BB at 6 Emmies). Now they want to wreck everything they’ve done? Over egos? Enjoy returning to cable obscurity.

  12. It’s not irrational for fans of the show to be concerned about this sort of announcement (err… rumor).

    If you’ve ever been at place of business where someone was unceremoniously let go, you’re probably familiar with how that effects morale. And if that person was in a leadership position and well-liked by his colleagues and subordinates, it can have longer-lasting consequences.

    Could season 2 be a commercial and critical success despite Darabont’s departure? Yes. Does Darabont’s departure decrease the chances of the show’s success? Yes. In the very least this is a distraction keeping people from being 100% focused on the show.

  13. I imagine this was a complex issue which had many factors including money, expectations, and personalities. Having said that, I hope it doesn’t suck now.

  14. I can’t help thinking of The West Wing…they booted Sorkin and the first season after that was a godawful mess.  It started to improve gradually but never reached its previous level of quality.  And that was a show with years of high ratings and acclaim preventing its unceremonious cancellation the moment it faltered.  This show doesn’t have anywhere near enough momentum to suffer a big drop and stay on the air long enough to find its footing again.

  15. I wonder if this is the result of Darabont attempting to exercise artistic control? With The Mist he altered the ending significantly and Season One of The Walking Dead suggested that there could be quite a difference between the comics and the show. My interpretation of the “not useable” footage is that Darabont was producing something too unsettling for the studio bosses. Regardless of what Kirkman and AMC this is a serious blow. (Plus: how can you have less zombies in a zombie tv series in order to save money?)

  16.   Wow!! There is the egomaniacal Hollywood exec reeling it head once agian. It will get interesting to see if the show remains a sucess or will it travel down the road of some of their other less sucessful shows. @Smasher , you hit it right on the button with the keeping fans from a 100% commitment.

  17. I think the comic is making me more nervous for the show than I would be if I didn’t know all the potential awesomeness that is down the road . . .

    If this was just a zombie TV show, I’d be okay with this. I thought overall season 1 was very cool but it had some serious moments of lameness.

    However; I also saw the potential in season 1 and what it could be when the best aspects of the comic and the television overlap . . .

    So, now, I’m worried . . .

  18. AMC needs to leave the creators alone, they know best. Some suit in an office somewhere doesn’t know best. Let’s not have no-talent executives trying to justify their obscene salaries coming in and mucking around with shows.  It’s never a good idea to meddle.

  19. I dont like the show hated the finale this gives me reason to give it up.

  20. @nastysnow  Wouldn’t not liking the show be a good enough reason??

  21. There were more people than Frank Darabont that worked on that first season.  I’m thinking some of them are still around.  I know it’s a huge blow to the production because he was the face of the staff and a man with a vision, but I’m thinking  the pieces are in place and that these other people will be able to still produce quality television. 

  22. It is worth considering that Darabont might have actually been doing a poor job on the show. I liked season 1, it was good TV overall. It was incredibly uneven though, with some episodes being the epitome of excellence in television and others being… considerably less than perfect. I will keep an open mind in the upcoming season, but I make no assumption as to its quality based on Darabont’s involvement.

  23. I know we don’t have all the info but this just strikes me as a bad decision. Really hope that AMC figures out how to deal with the creators of their successful shows. 

    As a fan, though, this doesn’t do anything for my confidence in the show. 

  24. @misterj I bought the first season on I wacthed on my ipod I was hopeing season 2, would get better

  25. Yeah the new season of Breaking Bad sucks so it looks like the reign of amc is coming to an end unfortunately. Better not fuck up Mad Men…

  26. AMC really do sound like a pack of turds. I hope creators steer clear of them in the future.