The Walking Dead lawsuit with Oscar-nominated writer Frank Darabont continues to make headlines. The latest information comes from The Hollywood Reporter. The website shared explicit and “obscene” emails from the former TWD showrunner to others that worked on the series. Filled with profanity, he accused them of greed.
Darabont worked hard to adapt Robert Kirkman’s comic books to television. At one time, NBC was somewhat interested, but wanted the show “without the zombies.” Both FOX and Turner networks declined to give the show a chance. Finally, he succeeded and nearly eight seasons later, The Walking Dead is on AMC.
In 2011, it was decided that the budget had to be cut by 25 percent in the second season. This left Frank frustrated and stunned. This is because the show was an instant hit and continues to rake in millions of viewers and generates tons of money. To Darabont, the decision made no sense and was rooted in greed. In a series of explicit and obscene emails, it is revealed just how angry he became about the situation.
Thinking of how to remedy the problem, Frank suggested they use a single set location, a Georgia farmhouse. Executives at AMC demanded to see all of the scripts for the season prior to shooting a single episode. Darabont said Vince Gilligan, who created Breaking Bad, told him that it was unheard of to deliver scripts so early in the production process.
The former TWD showrunner was under daily stress. Once footage came in of the new season, he was not pleased. According to lawsuit documents, Frank expressed his opinion in a “highly obscene way.” One example was revealed in a June 2011 email to several recipients, one of which included executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.
“F**k you all for giving me chest pains because of the staggering f**king incompetence, blindness to the important beats, and the beyond-arrogant lack of regard for what is written being exhibited on set every day. I deserve better than a heart attack because people are too stupid to read a script and understand the words. Does anybody disagree with me? Then join the C-cam operator and go find another job that doesn’t involve deliberately f**king up my show scene by scene.”
That same month, Frank Darabont asked in another email why camera operators were receiving paychecks when “Ray Charles could operate better.” Later, he compared one of the directors to an inexperienced high school student.
One month before Darabont was fired, he sent an email telling others that they need to adhere to his scripts.
“”YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE MOTHERF**KING SCRIPT! I EVEN CHOOSE MY GODD*MN COMMAS FOR A REASON!”
The former showrunner for The Walking Dead was not any easier on AMC executives. In one email to Ben Davis, he expressed outrage at his time being wasted.
“Please let’s stop invoking ‘writers room’. There IS no writers room, which you know as well as I do. I am the writers room. The f**king lazy a**holes who were supposedly going to be my showrunners threw that responsibility on me after wasting five months of my time.”
In an attempt to do damage control, Frank explained the emails in an affidavit.
“Each of these emails must be considered in context. They were sent during an intense and stressful two-year period of work during which I was fighting like a mother lion to protect the show from harm — not only on my own behalf, but ironically also on behalf of AMC.”
In another statement, the former TWD showrunner went into greater detail about his frustration.
“Each of these emails was sent because a ‘professional’ showed up whose laziness, indifference, or incompetence threatened to sink the ship of production and added unfair and unnecessary burden to their colleagues in the cast and crew… My tone was the result of the stress and magnitude of this extraordinary crisis. The language and hyperbole of my emails were harsh, but so were the circumstances. As for the enormous problems they describe, I stand by these emails to the last detail.”
AMC decided to strike back. A lawyer for the network explained their side of the story.
“Darabont’s erratic and unprofessional performance and his behavioral and interpersonal issues during Season 2 raised a number of concerns for AMC Studios. Among other things, his failure to timely deliver scripts, failure to adequately supervise the writers’ room, and his volatile and disturbing interactions with staff and talent were impacting production.”
Glen Mazzara took over the showrunner duties during Season 2 of The Walking Dead. He testified that Darabont was good at his job and worked around the clock. He believes there was a personal rift between Frank and creator Robert Kirkman, as well as AMC executives.
“When the material for the [Season 2 premiere] 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 serious. That if he did not appropriately solve these issues, he was about to be fired.”
Frank Darabont was fired, but he would not walk away without a fight. He, along with his agents at Creative Artists Agency filed a lawsuit in December 2013. Deadline reported that they asked for $280 million in damages. To date, there are thousands of pages of depositions, profit statements, testimony, and details about AMC’s other shows, like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and Mad Men.
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]