Welcome to the first 3 1/2 minutes of AMC’s companion series to The Walking Dead that premieres Sunday in the States. Frank Dillane stars along with Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, and Alycia Debnam Carey in the AMC Studios series. Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and David Alper executive producer alongside showrunner Dave Erickson, who co-created and co-wrote the pilot with Kirkman. Watch the beginnings of the zombie apocalypse unfold in Los Angeles below.
Diehard zombie fans were out in force for the first night of PaleyFest 2013 thanks to the festival-opening The Walking Dead panel moderated by Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick. Hardwick erred on the side of devoted fanboy rather than penetrating interviewer, giving the event more of a Comic-Con panel feel. Cast members Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Dania Gurira (Michonne), Laurie Holden (Andrea), Scott Wilson (Hershel), Emily Kinney (Beth), Norman Reedus (Daryl), and Steven Yeun (Glenn) were joined by series creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman and his co-executive producers Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and David Alpert for a occasionally salty, consistently hilarious discussion that avoided any hint of controversy.
Absent was any mention of the show’s difficulty holding onto showrunners, or the vastly divergent tonal differences between seasons. In its place was a discussion largely centered on the way each actor feels about their characters. (One exception was Hurd’s clever reference to one of the least loved things about Season 2. Referring to the evolution of Carl, lead character Rick’s young son, she quipped that he isn’t ‘Where’s Carl?’ anymore.) But despite this relative lack of substance, the discussion yielded interesting insight into how each episode comes together, particularly the close relationship between the creative staff and the cast.
One topic that came up again and again was the series’ high body count, something all the cast on hand agreed was, in Andrew Lincoln’s words, the “one bad thing” about making the show. Over the series-run, more than a dozen supporting characters and now three starring characters have been killed off, with more surely to come, assuming the series follows the grim trajectory of the long-running comic. (To cope, the cast has created a ritual, attending a favourite Atlanta-area restaurant and holding a fake birthday party for the outgoing cast.) Kirkman agreed with the difficulty of killing off cast, comparing it negatively to his comic. “It’s horrible for me, because I’ve been writing the comic for almost 10 years now. When we decide to kill a character, it’s like ‘Eh! Not going to be writing or drawing that imaginary thing anymore!’ On the show there’s real people involved and the cast, they’re almost like close family.”
That closeness apparently plays a large role in how the series is produced. Kirkman explained that the actors are always brought into the writers’ room to discuss changes and events their characters will go through. “There’s a lot of things that come from those meetings that actually inform the stories that get told over the seasons,” he said. “I think that’s a really cool process. They live with the scripts almost longer than we do.”
The Walking Dead, currently the record holder for most-watched drama in basic cable history with 12.3 million viewers for the recent mid-season premiere, is currently finishing out its third season on AMC. It was renewed for a fourth season in December.
AMC has announced that it has renewed flagship drama The Walking Dead for a fourth season. But Glen Mazzara, who had served as showrunner following the abrupt departure of creator/original showrunner Frank Darabont early into the second season, is leaving. Speculations about Mazzara’s future on the show started when AMC didn’t follow its regular routine of giving The Walking Dead an early pickup despite the record-breaking ratings performance of the show’s recent fall portion of Season 3. There had been rumors that Mazzara was not happy on the show and may follow the slew of other showrunners who have departed AMC series. Darabont tapped Glen Mazzara as an executive producer and his No. 2 heading into Season 2, after Mazzara wrote a freelance script in Season 2. Mazzara was quickly elevated to showrunner when Darabont left.
“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 and Mazzara said in a joint statement. “This decision is amicable and Glen will remain on for post-production on season 3B as showrunner and executive producer… AMC is grateful for his hard work. We are both proud of our shared success.” Here are individual statements from Mazzara and The Walking Dead executive producers Robert Kirkman, on whose comic the series is based, and 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
The cast and producers of The Walking Dead will participate in an hour-long panel at this year’s New York Comic Con. During the panel on Sat. Oct. 13, Andrew Lincoln and the cast of The Walking Dead along with showrunner and executive producer Glen Mazzara and executive producers Robert Kirkman and Gale Anne Hurd will discuss the highly anticipated Season 3 premiere. Moderated by Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick, The Walking Dead panel will also include an exclusive clip from the premiere episode, which returns to AMC on Sun., Oct. 14 at 9/8c.
In addition, on Saturday the actual RV from The Walking Dead will be set up outside the convention, complete with walkers lingering around.
Comic Con details:
Sat. Oct. 13
2PM-3PM: Autograph Signing in Room 1E17
5PM-6PM Panel in the IGN Theatre (Room holds approx. 3,000)
The Walking Dead returns Sun., Oct. 14 at 9/8c on AMC (and is not available on DISH)… and here in Australia we get it 33 hours later on the FX Channel on Foxtel/Austar. can’t wait..!!!
The next movie by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday, Centurion) will be a horror film with a pretty classic setup. It goes by the name Hellfest, and the director is in early talks to make it his next project, with a summer 2012 shoot looking likely if all the assorted deals work out.
The script, by William Penick and Chris Sey, is about “a costumed killer who systematically slaughters the unsuspecting visitors who come to a theme park on Halloween night.” Or, as previous reports said, “a Halloween night of fun turns deadly at America’s premier theme park when an actual costumed killer begins slaying unsuspecting patrons who believe it’s all part of the show.”
The writers, and CBS films have been developing the Hellfest script since this summer, when Gale Anne Hurd through her Valhalla Entertainment banner, was announced as producer at Comic Con. The hope is to launch a horror franchise. Marshall is currently in post production on Blackwater, an episode in the second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.