Former The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara said today that if you want to know why he suddenly lost his job on the hit show last year, he’s not your guy. “When people involved with the show are looking at the long-term plan, you know, they want something different. And what those differences are, you’d have to ask AMC,” he said Tuesday during a session at NATPE. Mazzara exited Walking Dead in December when AMC renewed the breakout series for a fourth season. “I was a hired gun coming in to support the creator of the show and, through odd circumstances, I ended up becoming the showrunner. I was just glad that I was able to contribute and not mess up the show, I see that as a win,” he added to laughs from the crowd. Earlier this month, Walking Dead supervising producer Scott Gimple was announced as Mazzara’s replacement. Mazzara was appearing on a panel in Miami with Lost co-creator/showrunner Damon Lindelof on the second day of the conference. The second part of The Walking Dead’s third season starts February 10.
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The departure of Mazzara, who replaced original showrunner/creator Frank Darabont in the show’s second season, was said to have occurred under duress from Walking Dead executive producer Robert Kirkman, on whose comic series the TV show is based. While not naming names, Mazzara touched on the conflict on the panel. “When you are the creator you can say this is what the show is. I didn’t create the show, I didn’t create the comic book so I was just glad I was able to contribute,” said Mazzara, who also called Darabont’s sudden departure a “crisis.” Lindelof chimed in about the backstage machinations that showrunners have to deal with. “I don’t know what the climate’s like at that show or at AMC, there’s different culture at every network. But I do think that there’s a bit of misconception in that if a show is doing very very well that there’s a laissez faire attitude about ‘well, they must be doing something right so we’re going to leave them alone,’” said the Prometheus and Star Trek Into Darkness co-author.
Lindelof got a big laugh out of the panel’s audience when he talked about the changes that occurred when Lost premiered to big ratings on ABC back in September 2004. “Suddenly there was seven executives I’d never met before and it was more like ‘Oh my God, don’t f*** it up!’” he said. “We’re on the creative side of it but it’s a business. And the most expensive thing you can do on a television show is produce three seasons of it and get cancelled,” Lindelof added. Mazzara nodded in agreement.
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- Damon Lindelof