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.
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The Walking Dead is a five-part game series set in the universe of Robert Kirkman’s award-winning comic book series. Play as Lee Everett, a history professor convicted for the murder of his wife’s lover, as he is given a second chance at life in a world devastated by the undead. With corpses returning to life and survivors stopping at nothing to maintain their own safety, protecting an orphaned girl named Clementine may offer him redemption in a world gone to hell.
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
Telltale Games’ episodic video game adaptation of Robert Kirkman‘s The Walking Dead has already mostly been released and enjoyed by a great number of fans. But for those of you not as into downloading games onto your console, all five episodes of the game are being joined together and sold as a full game on disc.
The full game will arrive on December 4th, but you can pre-order it now. Even better, there’s a pre-order bonus Collector’s Edition bundle pack that those of you who have been wanting to read the original Walking Dead comic are going to want to hear about.
Unfortunately your buying options are limited; the disc version of the game is being sold exclusively at GameStop. The game itself will be sold for $29.99, but, if you have a little extra coin to spend and are one of said people who want to read the comics, you can get the bundle pack for $69.99. The bundle pack comes with the game and The Walking DeadCompendium One, which is a massive collection of the first 48 issues of the comic book series. The pre-order bonus is said to be “extremely limited.”
The compendium itself retails for $59.99 (though you can grab it on Amazon right now for $34 if you just want the book) so it’s a great deal if you’re looking to both play the game and read the comic. It’s available for both X-box 360 and PlayStation 3.
The bundle is a pre-order offer only, so if you want it, be sure to order at Game Stop before the game’s release…
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..!!!
Below is an on-set interview from FX Channel with the show’s creator and Executive Producer Robert Kirkman about Danai Gurira’s (Michonne) sword skills and the most impressive set he’s ever seen on the show (Yes, we’re talking about the prison.)
If you haven’t read the graphic novels, don’t read this interview as it contains information that may spoil your enjoyment of season 3… If you have read the graphic novels, you’ll enjoy learning that most of the cool story beats from this section of the ‘Ongoing story of survival’ have been retained. Enjoy.
Q: After two seasons, you must feel like an old pro on set. What aspects of production still surprise you?
A: One thing that’s surprising me is how much I’ve fallen in love with Georgia. The town Senoia where we’re filming is absolutely beautiful…The big change this season is we’ve got this amazing prison that we’re filming in. It’s absolutely stunning, and I never get used to being on set.
Q: What went into constructing the prison?
A: They’ve taken a lot of what you see in the comic book series and brought it to life in ways that I didn’t think possible. This is going to be one of the most impressive looking things that’s ever been put together for a show.
Q: The room in the prison with all the guns and the SWAT gear in the comic is really cool. Is that going to come up on the show?
A: We’re a big fan of the SWAT gear here at The Walking Dead writer’s room… maybe that’s an indication that we’ll be seeing that stuff in the show. It’s important to us to maintain the tone of the show. Thus far [the characters] have been out on the road, desperate and living in the heat, and we don’t want it to be that they’re relaxing in this safe place now.
Q: With the evil Governor in the picture, does that mean the humans are the bigger threat this season?
A: The plan was always to evolve naturally into a place where the zombies essentially become a manageable threat. You know the rules. You know how to deal with them. To a certain extent they become something to not really be scared of unless you mess up. Humans, however, do not follow any rules and will always do something that surprises you and are capable of doing things far worse than trying to eat you…We’re definitely going to be seeing a lot of horrible things.
Q: What can you tell us about David Morrissey’s portrayal of the Governor? Have you seen him in costume yet?
A: I’m actually waiting desperately to see him dressed up in Governor mode and walking the streets of Woodbury. I think he’s going to be absolutely great playing against Andrew Lincoln.
Q: Michonne was introduced in the Season 2 Finale. How are Danai Gurira’s sword skills shaping up?
A: There’s been quite a bit of sword training going on and [Danai] is doing an amazing job. She’s going to be do all of the hard character stuff and drama that The Walking Dead is known for, but she has tremendous physical capability and the sword training that I’ve seen is absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to see her hack up some zombies.
Q: Can you tell us anything about the sword she’s using?
A: She’s using a sword that we specially designed for the show…The origins of the sword will be revealed on the show.
Q: This season has got so many exciting story lines…
A: When you think about The Walking Dead comic series, you think about oh, the stuff they with did the Governor, the stuff they did with the prison and Woodbury and Michonne. And that’s really a lot of the stuff that people remember the story for and that’s stuff we haven’t even gotten to in the TV show yet. So as much as people love the show, and as high as the ratings are, and as cool as the show is, I feel like we haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet. This season is absolutely going to blow people away.
Q: You’re developing another of your comics, Thief of Thieves, with AMC. What can you tell us about that project?
A: Thief of Thieves is a great heist story about a man named Conrad Paulson who leads a double life as a master thief known internationally as Redman…I am working with Chic Eglee, who is a fantastic writer who worked on the first season of The Walking Dead, and right now we are in the pilot development stage, so he’s going to be working hard on the pilot script and once that’s written we’ll go from there. But it’s really exciting to be working with AMC again.
Q: This season will be 16 episodes instead of 13. Are you looking forward to the longest production time yet?
A: The actors and the crew and a lot of the producers would not be thrilled to hear me saying this, but I love doing 16 episodes a year. I think the more the better, and I think it’s a lot of fun. We are going to get to tell bigger stories, and tell more stories, and get into the characters a lot more. So the more the merrier.
Six weeks after suddenly exiting the show he created, executive produced and ran — AMC’s The Walking Dead — Frank Darabont is still in discussions to continue on with an unspecified role on the show. According to inside sources, Darabont will retain his executive producer title, but just what that will mean in terms of his creative input remains uncertain. Negotiations are ongoing, and it’s “in the hands of the lawyers” representing Darabont and AMC, the source said.
Asked this morning at a second-season premiere screening in Beverly Hills if Darabont would have a role on the AMC zombie hit going forward, writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman (who created the graphic novels on which the series is based) replied, “Not that I’m aware of.” AMC president Charlie Collier said at the same screening, “(Darabont’s) imprimatur is on the show in the second season.” At the screening, Kirkman tried to leave the impression that everything is going smoothly with production despite the sudden change at the top. “Everything has transitioned really well with Glen,” he said. Kirkman also addressed Darabont’s publicly expressed displeasure with the show’s reduced budget for Season 2. “Anyone who has concerns about how the budget will affect things will be reassured after they see the premiere. All of our production values (from Season 1) are the same if not bigger.” But at the same time, Kirkman admitted that everyone was caught off-guard by Darabont’s swift exit. “Oh sure, it was tough,” he acknowledged. “It happened. It is what it is. But the truth is Frank remains very much a part of the second season. He was there from early February through the time he left (in July) mapping things out. His stamp will be all over it. But that aside, the attitude is good. Everyone’s 100 percent invested in making the best TV show that we can.”
The Walking Dead is AMC’s highest-rated series. It debuted with 5.3 million viewers last Halloween and drew an audience of more than 6 million for its December finale. In the 18-49 demo, that capper generated the largest audience ever for any drama on basic cable. Season 2 of the show will kick off with a 90-minute premiere Oct. 16.