AMC is getting really good at dicking around the showrunners of their most popular and creatively beloved shows. The network’s frequent headbutting with Mad Men creator/showrunner Matthew Weiner is no secret, and they edged out The Walking Dead creator/showrunner Frank Darabont halfway through the hit zombie series’ second season. Now, in a shocking move on the heels of a season four renewal, current The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara has announced that he’s leaving the show over a “difference of opinion” with the network.
Here’s the full announcement from AMC and Mazzara:
Today, AMC announces the season 4 pick-up of The Walking Dead.
AMC also jointly announces with Glen Mazzara today that for future seasons, the two parties have mutually decided to part ways. Glen guided the series creatively for seasons 2 and 3. AMC is grateful for his hard work. We are both proud of our shared success.
Both parties acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion about where the show should go moving forward, and conclude that it is best to part ways. This decision is amicable and Glen will remain on for post-production on season 3B as showrunner and executive producer.
Frankly, this is surprising news. Since Mazzara took over the reins of the show from Darabont, the series has seen a crazy increase in viewership and critical acclaim. Not only is it breaking ratings for cable television, it’s regularly beating everything on network TV as well. Season three is generally considered the best installment of the show thus far, and a large part of that is thanks to Mazzara’s involvement as showrunner alongside comics creator/executive producer Robert Kirkman.
I don’t know what, specifically, Mazzara and AMC disagreed on, but this is getting ridiculous. The official statement makes clear that Mazzara isn’t moving on out of a disinterest with the show, but over a difference of opinion with the network. What’s next, AMC tells Vince Gilligan to turn Breaking Bad into a buddy comedy in order to extend the series’ run past the upcoming final season?
There’s no word on who will be stepping in to replace Mazzara as showrunner, but I feel like Kirkman is the guy for the job. He’s been with the series from the beginning and has acted as both an executive producer and writer on the show, so The Walking Dead would most assuredly be in good hands if he stepped in. Seriously, though, AMC has got to stop messing with their successes.
Here are individual statements from Mazzara, Kirkman, and producer Gale Anne Hurd:
My time as showrunner on The Walking Dead has been an amazing experience, but after I finish season 3, it’s time to move on. I have told the stories I wanted to tell and connected with our fans on a level that I never imagined. It doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. – Glen Mazzara
I am in full support of both AMC and Glen Mazzara in the decision they have come to and believe the parties came to this decision in the best interest of the future of the show. I thank Glen for his hard work and appreciate his many contributions to The Walking Dead and look forward to working with him as we complete post production on Season 3. I am also excited to begin work on another spectacular season of this show that I know means so much to so many people. This show has always been the result of a wide range of extremely talented men and women working tirelessly to produce their best work collectively. I believe the future is bright for The Walking Dead. Thank you to the fans for your continued support. – Robert Kirkman
I am appreciative and grateful to Glen for his hard work on ‘The Walking Dead.’ I am supportive of AMC and Glen’s decision and know that the series is in great hands with one of the most talented and dedicated casts and crews in the business. I look forward to the show’s continued success. – Gale Anne Hurd