AMC — on tap right now at the critic's press tour — said that new hit "The Walking Dead" will have a new showrunner.
No surprise here: Outgoing Frank Darabont's departure was widely reported a few days ago. He'll be replaced by Glenn Mazzara, a TV pro with a fairly lavish credit list, though probably best-known for his work on "The Shield."
Darabont's departure is a major blow to the show because he did bring that cinematic scope to this; best of all, he knew exactly what viewers were looking for — disgusting blood-lust zombies — and he gave 'em plenty of that. Mazzara, I would imagine, will be under far tighter budgetary strictures, which means this will look more like a TV show.
Plus, my sense is that Darabont had little allegiance to some romantic-heroic-TV ideal — that the good guys should ultimately prevail, etc. In fact, just the opposite: His vision of "Walking Dead" has been almost desperately bleak, bitter and cynical. It's horror with its heart ripped out — no sop thrown to viewers before the last commercial break to make them feel hopeful and happy about the next week's episode.
In fact, if you've seen Darabont's "The Mist" you know exactly what I'm talking about; not only did the hero lose, but he shot to death all the survivors (including his own son!) before they were gutted by the monsters. He would've killed himself except that he ran out of bullets. And at that moment, the troops arrived to save the day, and the mist dissipated! Now that's horror: Nobody wins.
Here's the statement:
The Walking Dead’s Glen Mazzara, writer and executive producer, is expanding his responsibilities to assume the role of showrunner. AMC is grateful to executive producer, writer and pilot director Frank Darabont whose contributions to the success of The Walking Dead are innumerable. We continue to discuss his ongoing role with the series. Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead graphic novels, executive producer and writer on the series, will remain in this role and will continue to steward the brand. Gale Anne Hurd will remain in her role as Executive Producer. The production continues on schedule for an October 16th premiere.