Frank Darabont shocked fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead last November when he fired the entire writing staff of the successful show. Turns out, Darabont wrote most of the episodes himself anyway but it still raised some eyebrows. The director is finally speaking out about the decision.
Speaking with Deadline, Darabont said the whole thing was “pretty overblown.” “It left the impression that I walked in one day and murdered 12 people. Would you like to know how many writers we were talking about? Two,” he said, “My thought had been that they’d under-delivered, and a change was necessary. I had to do too much of it by myself last year, and that was only six episodes.”
Season 2 is slated for thirteen episodes and the director is not going to be sitting in a room by himself to write all of them. “We hired Glen Mazzara as our Number Two in the room. We consider him our head writer and he’s just a fantastic asset,” he said, “We’ve also got three other staff writers in Scott Gimple, Evan Reilly from Rescue Me, and Angela Kang. Plus Executive Producer Robert Kirkman, who wrote the original comic book, is also writing for us.”
So what’s on tap for Season 2? “It’s fair to say that the first six episodes were teeing up a lot of conflicts that will be more fully explored in our second season,” said Darabont, “We find a growing conflict with our two main guys, Rick [Andrew Lincoln] and Shane [Jon Bernthal]. We’re really excited about putting all of the characters on a chessboard and seeing how wonderfully and effectively we can toss conflict into the game.”
Darabont also mentioned how grateful he is to Kirkman for his understanding when it comes to transferring his beloved comic to the small screen. “He realizes how different the mediums of comics and television are from one another,” he said, “One of the things that really attracted me to this material in the first place was how smartly Kirkman incorporated the characters and their journey in trying to survive and better themselves in this world. It was a really adult approach. And because we’re a TV series, we’ve hopefully got years to flesh out that story and all of the aspects of who they are.”
The director also said he worked for five years to get The Walking Dead on television before AMC picked it up but that the network has been good to them. “We certainly get notes, but nothing that we believe doesn’t make sense. We feel very much in partnership with AMC,” he said, “Sometimes we have to compromise, sometimes they do. But we have to admit that a lot of the stuff they’re telling us is sensible, and none of it’s dumb. Believe me, I’ve gotten a lot of dumb notes in my time, and after 25 years in the business I can tell the difference.”
Asked if he’d given much thought to the upcoming Emmy Awards Darabont said, “You know, a little bit. And it’s awesome to be a part of that chatter. We were just blown away to get nominated for a Golden Globe, a DGA award, and a WGA award in our first year. But that stuff is out of our control.”