The Walking Dead is experiencing something of a renaissance, in terms of both ratings and quality, as the “Don’t call’em zombies” drama not only remains AMC’s most popular series, but it’s turned critics around after a sketchy second season had many writing the show off completely. So while it comes as no surprise at all that AMC has renewed the drama for a fourth season, it’s kind of a shock that it’ll be returning without one of the men responsible for the turnaround, showrunner Glen Mazzarra.
“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,” AMC said in a statement. “This decision is amicable, and Glen will remain on for postproduction on season 3B as showrunner and executive producer.”
Mazzara was a freelancer writer who scripted season one’s “Wildfire”, and was promptly tapped to serve as executive producer under previous showrunner Frank Darabont. When Darabont was consequently fired for refusing budget cuts to the series, Mazzara got the nod to replace him. Mazzara’s stint as showrunner, which started with the divisive second season, earned the series praise for its more nuanced attention to character and its more relaxed pacing. The third season, Mazarra’s first full season free from Darabont’s influence, has seen the show topping many best of 2012 lists.
“My time as showrunner on The Walking Dead has been an amazing experience, but after I finish season three, it’s time to move on,” Mazzara said in a statement. “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.”
Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead comic books, contributed his thoughts on Mazzara’s departure, adding, “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.” Kirkman continues, “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 postproduction on season three. 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.”
Also commenting on Mazzara’s departure, and the future of the series, was Mazzara’s fellow EP Gale Anne Hurd, who said in a statement, “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.”
In related news, AMC is increasing its order of the series’ post-show Talking Dead. The Chris Hardwicke-hosted talk show will be expanding to a full hour for the second half of season three, and moving up an hour to 10:00 PM, in order to immediately follow the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
Full story: The Hollywood Reporter
Filming on season three has already wrapped. The second half of the show’s third season returns to AMC February 10, 2013.