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It’s no secret that the behind-the-scenes goings-on for hit TV shows aren’t always so smooth and easy-going, and one of the biggest battles in recent years took place between Frank Darabont and AMC over the filmmaker’s short tenure as showrunner on The Walking Dead. Darabont has been vocal in the past about his displeasure over getting fired and allegedly getting swindled out of millions of dollars in profits – and the ongoing legal case is certainly a sign of it – but now the full story has come out thanks to the recently unsealed deposition Darabont gave in court. Here’s what he says is the “official” reason for his termination.
They accused me of not having directors tone meetings. And I said, 'That's absolutely not true, I have had a directors tone meeting with every single director this season.
For those unaware, tone meetings take place between showrunners and directors to cover how each episode is supposed to be presented as far as tone goes. In the grand scheme of things, this is obviously not the most egregious dispute that a network can have with someone, even if Frank Darabont hadn’t actually been having those meetings. So it’s no surprise that Darabont (and probably a lot of other people) think that this reason is garbage.
Also unsurprisingly, Darabont had a lot of other things to say about AMC and their practices during his time on the show, and none of them were good. It was widely reported that budget issues were at the center of Darabont’s problems with AMC, and he again said that the network wanted him to reduce the episode budgets while also producing more episodes, all while AMC was keeping tax credits for itself. He also said network execs had no respect for how hard the cast and crew were working, and that their visits to the hot Georgia sets would be mostly spent inside air-conditioned areas. Another large blow came when he decided Season 2’s first episode needed some reshoots, something he says another network exec agreed to, but that she later lied to everyone else and said that conversation never happened, which certainly didn’t help him.
AMC has obviously been defending itself over this, but Darabont had some backup from Glen Mazzara, who took over showrunner duties for Season 2 and later left over creative differences. According to THR, Mazzara believes that AMC was very unfair to Frank Darabont, and that he should be credited with conceiving some of the biggest moments in Season 2. He also said this:
I believe that Frank was executing his responsibilities and duties as showrunner and there was a personal rift between [Walking Dead co-creator Robert] Kirkman and Darabont and between Darabont and the AMC executives, and that when the material for the finale came in and Frank said I need some time to figure out a plan of how to pursue this and what we're going to re-shoot and what it will take to do this, AMC was unwilling to give him that time to solve the issue and they let him go without notifying him that he was, that the issues were that series. That if he did not appropriately solve these issues, he was about to be fired.
Since leaving The Walking Dead, Darabont took some of that show’s actors and put together the shortlived TNT drama Mob City. As fans, we’re hoping that something reasonable comes of this legal case and that Darabont can get back to creating more classic movies and TV shows with a clear head.