AMC stunned fans when it announced that The Walking Dead would return for a fourth season … without showrunner Glen Mazzara.
Let’s recap. AMC’s The Walking Dead is pretty much the most popular basic cable television show of all time, but for some strange reason, the network keeps forcing changes to the show’s creative direction. Season 1, helmed by film great Frank Darabont, pulled in record numbers. So they fired him. Glen Mazzara stepped in for Seasons 2 and 3, and he’s done a pretty good job, though I think the show has succumbed to predictable tropes and stereotypes. Still, the numbers are there.
So why is AMC firing The Walking Dead‘s second showrunner in three seasons when the show just works? Who knows, but recent comments from Mazzara give us a look into the hectic, unorganized, and often divisive process behind TV’s most successful show, even if the fallen showrunner was completely amiable about the whole thing.
“When people involved with the show are looking at the long-term plan, you know, they want something different,” a candid Mazzara said Tuesday during a NATPE Conference panel in Miami, Florida. “And what those differences are, you’d have to ask AMC.”
Deadline and THR also report that Mazzara never felt he had complete creative control over The Walking Dead, and that he received script notes and revisions from the network, other producers, and even actors. Still, Mazzara seemed happy to be a part of the show.
“When you’re the creator, you can say, ‘This is what the show is,'” Mazzara said. “I didn’t create the show. I didn’t create the comic book, so I’m just glad I was able to contribute.”
Still, Mazzara thinks there are way too many cooks in The Walking Dead‘s kitchen.
“There’s no way you can take every note,” he said. “There’s no way you can make everybody happy. So I’d just sort of go through and do a rewrite on the entire script trying to include all of those different voices, all of those different perspectives … At the end of the day, though, you’re never going to get consensus. So that’s where I have to say, ‘I feel this is the best possible script.’ … At the end of the day, somebody has to make the call. Otherwise, it’s just chaos.”
The popular rumor right now is that Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead comic book series, forced Mazzara out.
Producer Scott Gimple will replace Mazzara as showrunner in Season 4.