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This Sunday Walking Dead will finish its first season on AMC. But showrunner Frank Darabont is already at work getting ready for the 13-episode second season — by firing his entire writing staff. Could this mean trouble for Walking Dead?

Deadline is reporting a rumor that director, writer and Walking Dead producer Frank Darabont has let the entire writing staff go. And instead of hiring a new staff for the second season, Darabont is toying with the idea of assigning freelancers to each script. While assigning freelancers to TV scripts isn't anything new, canning the whole writing staff is pretty unusual, and we're still weighing out the pros and cons of this executive decision.

On one hand, Darabont penned the series pilot and the second episode solo, while co-writing and rewriting the remaining four episodes of Walking Dead's first season. Two of the four episodes that Darabont didn't write were created by "non-staffers" Glen Mazzara and original comic creator Robert Kirkman. So in reality, Darabont is already carrying the bulk of the writing work on his shoulders, so there may not be any need to blow the second season budget on an in-house writing staff.

That being said, the second season has a total of 13 episodes. That doubles the amount of time the production crew will have to spend under the boiling Atlanta sun filming the new episodes. Plus, whatever writer ends up tackling the new scripts, they're going to be under a very tight schedule. And if Darabont wants to stay as heavily involved as he has been throughout season one (and it sounds like he does) it's going to take double the effort to write, re-write, produce, shoot, and edit the new season. The burn out factor seems almost inevitable, even with the original comic book outline.

And while we're on the topic of the original, the TV series has already taken a massive deviation from the books. We're just five episodes in and already show is attempting to explain the chemical root of the zombie-making virus, whereas the comic focused solely on survival. The more wholly original material Walking Dead the TV show aims to produce, the more eyes we'd rather have on each new script. The writers' room is where a lot of these new story ideas would get hashed out — if one exists. With no staff writers, there's no writers' room.

All of this has yet to be confirmed and is merely a rumor — but we're hoping that Darabont goes ahead and hires a few actual staff writers, as opposed to freelancers, for season 2, for the betterment of Walking Dead.

Originally published by Meredith on

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Cyberhal (10 years ago) Reply

I think he'd be very unwise to hire freelance writers for each episode. Bad for the show, bad for the writers. With no continuity, the story evolution will rest only on Darabont, already a busy man. Freelancers will go for gimmicks, to make a splash.


Anglebender (10 years ago) Reply

Rash writing decisions and a hastened production schedule might create more than a few WTF "The Force comes from midichlorians" moments :(


iamdavidbyrne (10 years ago) Reply

I wonder if there is more to this story. I know Darabont is the ring leader of the project, but television shows are a multi-million dollar business full of a multitude of executives and producers... all of who would have surely weighed in and ok'ed Darabont's decision. I have a hunch, since the production takes place in Georgia and in order for them to receive the state's production tax incentives they would have had to establish an LLC, production company in the state of Georgia. Georgia is a right to work state which means that all companies can avoid the interference of guilds such as the Writer's Guild. Darabont can fire his WGA staff writers and bring on freelancers possibly for a cheaper salary. Tyler Perry did a very similar thing to some of his staff writers here in Georgia.

My guess which is only just a guess is that it all boils down to money.


agentorange (10 years ago) Reply

This news is really weird because it seems to go against AMC's reputation and track record of being a programmer focused on quality - not concerns of overhead.

And with Walking Dead being such a runaway hit, why would they be trying to cut corners? You think Darabont would be asking for MORE resources, not spreading them thin.


Anonymous (10 years ago) Reply

Great news, fire them all, cancel the show.


Sunolet (10 years ago) Reply

I hate it when films try to explain the virus, whole plot line turns to finding a cure or an oasis and it just goes down hill fast


donc48 (10 years ago) Reply

I’m trying not to be too judgmental but you have to wonder after a producing a runaway hit why screw with it after the first season? Agent Orange and I am David Byrne both have valid points why cut corners on a potential cash machine? Hiring free lancers strikes me as just weird under the circumstances your not going to get the continuity, to much rewriting can gut any piece of writing.
It could be politics in AMC now that the series is a hit some executive is looking to acquire some creative input into the series and made some “Suggestions” to Darabont. Whatever the reason it is odd.


Cletus (10 years ago) Reply

I really want to like this show, but the characters are not particularly likable or believable, especially in their reaction/response to events. Even the plot seems tired. I suspect that many other viewers feel the same way. So, bringing in new writers may be the best thing.


Frodo (10 years ago) Reply

The business side of art is what matters most. A new writing team might be able to push an agenda prevalent in many US series, from 'tidying up' moral ambiguity to creating stories around a business deal rather than for the story's own sake. I've a feeling that TWD will go the way of post-mil Survivors, i.e. it'll transform into corporate formulaic pap which addicts from the 1st series won't notice much, or care about, as they're already hooked.
Pity. It was looking very good. At least with comics the creative process isn't marred by commerce.


rbk (10 years ago) Reply

I don't have a problem with this at all. A 'writing staff' is vastly overrated and the story is essentially storyboarded (yes, there's a been a couple deviations like Merle and CDC.) And Sunolet - hope they don't go that road and I don't think they will...


eternitykidz (10 years ago) Reply

I knew that Darabont guy was gonna screw this up. What's a pussy director like him (his films aren't bad, only soft and sometimes dull) doing directing a hard core zombie series? This series had potential to become big and it has been working all right. Why change that risking the story's continuity? This decision's probably going to stir enough waters that'll finally result in cancellation. A shame really.


trogen (10 years ago) Reply

At the moment, this is average (IM NOT SAYING ITS BAD)... needs more money spent on it. Id agree after watching the fist 5 episodes that new writers need to be introduced.
whats the biggie?
This is the sort of programe that is going to have at least 10 series. They can keep writings series forever (and I hope they do!)and unlike Lost and the other shisters, this can actually get better over time, instead of impossible to follow and boring


Jules (10 years ago) Reply

we don't need to know how the outbreak started, there has always been an understanding with Z movies that an outbreak either came from space, or some scientist was screwing around with a deadly virus that mutated. I just don't need to know that, what I like about TWD is that you were there for the personal struggles/survival of each character as they killed zombies.

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