shame sad on the walking dead

While the world of entertainment has never been lacking by way of creative controversies and disputes, the ugliest situations don't often get publicized as widely as the events surrounding the firing of The Walking Dead TV developer Frank Darabont, which has remained headline news thanks to a lawsuit between the filmmaker and AMC. Most recently, Darabont's vicious and expletive-laden emails to the Walking Dead's crew members were unveiled, with notable TV director Gwyneth Horder-Payton specifically targeted with insulting fury. Horder-Payton somewhat surprisingly responded to the situation this week, saying this:

It's pretty rough. Now that I've said I'm going to speak about it, I don't know what to say. Basically, that was so extreme; it's very hard to talk about that one, but another one that I went through. I would say that you have to keep your vision. It's best not to defend yourself, you have to just march forward and do the work and that's how I've dealt with some bad behavior and some strife. And basically if I had to say anything which I did, it's, 'You know what? The proof is in the pudding, let me just go and do my work and then we'll see how the episode turns out.' And then they turned out, with the exception of that one, for various reasons.

Clearly, Gwyneth Horder-Payton could have stayed mum on the issue and no one would have expected anything otherwise, but it's commendable that she was able to address Frank Darabont's extreme emails, and without ever hitting a tone that came across as defensive or confrontational. I mean, I seriously doubt anyone is eager to rail on Darabont in a public setting, considering how litigious things already are. (Not to mention any innate worries concerning being publicly raked over the coals again.)

Rather than sharing her reactionary thoughts in a more intimate conversation, Gwyneth Horder-Payton talked things out in front of a large crowd during the TCA summer press event, specifically for a panel made up of FX directors. (She's helmed eps for Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Feud, American Horror Story and more.) And while not exactly a groundbreaking response, there's some wisdom in there that younger TV directors and more could learn from, particularly in letting one's work speak for itself in the face of criticisms both high and low, and without letting one's central vision get distracted by outside noise.

Of course, we can't easily tell just how strained things were on the set of The Walking Dead during its first season, although it's hard to believe Frank Darabont would have been so hardcore in his emails without having that angst bleed into his day-to-day behavior. When he called out Gwyneth Horder-Payton in an email to AMC exec Denise Huth -- in reference to either the director's work on Episode 3, "Tell It To the Frogs" or the Season 2 premiere "What Lies Ahead" -- Darabont called her footage "fundamentally fucked," and compared her mind-state to that of The Majestic actor Allen Garfield, whose work was allegedly affected by a stroke that no one was aware he'd suffered.

As such, it would have been quite reasonable for Horder-Payton to stack up some soapboxes and take Darabont to town over his insulting words. But she got through that "extreme" experience relatively unscathed and has gone on to deliver some of the best work in her career in the years after. Here's to more of that in the future.

While we're definitely not going to see Frank Darabont returning to The Walking Dead universe outside of the courtroom, the AMC hit will return to audiences for Season 8 on Sunday, October 22, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see everything else hitting the small screen in the near future, head to our summer premiere schedule and our fall TV schedule.

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