'Walking Dead' exclusive: Exec producer Gale Anne Hurd denies Frank Darabont fired writers, talks season two

hurd-walking-deadImage Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images; AMCIn an interview with EW, The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens) denies reports that director Frank Darabont fired the hit AMC show’s writing staff. She also confirmed that all of the principal cast — or, presumably, the actors whose characters are still alive at the end of this Sunday’s season finale — are signed up for multiple seasons of the zombie show.

Earlier this week, Deadline reported that Shawshank Redemption filmmaker Frank Darabont — who developed the Walking Dead for television and directed the pilot — had let go the show’s writers, including Murder One co-creator Charles “Chic” Eglee. But earlier today, Hurd refuted that allegation. “It’s completely inaccurate,” she told EW exclusively.  “[In] the writers’ room, there are people that have set up other projects that will be their first priority if their own series is picked up as a pilot or if it’s a series. I think [Eglee] just decided that he wants to run his own show.”

Hurd said the Walking Dead will probably return in October. “I think Frank and Robert [Kirkman, writer of the Walking Dead comic and an executive producer on the show] will sit down early next year, to begin mapping it out.” She also confirmed that “every one of the principal cast is signed up for multiple seasons.”

So much for the writers and the actors. What about Greg Nicotero? The makeup effects legend created the look of the zombies on the show and played several of the featured undead. However, it is rumored he may soon be making his own directorial debut with an adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s horror book Drive-In? “We certainly hope he’ll be back,” said Hurd. “As with everything, it’s subject to availability. But he’s a very important member of the team as are his colleagues at [Nicotero's effects house] KNB. KNB will still be [doing] our makeup effects.”

Finally, Hurd admitted that even she had been surprised by the success of The Walking Dead, which last Sunday scared up its biggest ratings to date. “Honestly, I think they went up because of [EW's] cover article,” she said. “When you think about, it’s still genre, and a lot of people might think, well, it’s a zombie show it’s not for me. But we’ve found that it has broader appeal than initial expectations.”

You can check out a sneak peek at this Sunday’s Walking Dead finale “TS-19″ below.

And you can also listen to this week’s EW’s TV Insiders Podcast, in which we preview the show’s highly anticipated finale.

[AUDIO http://www.ew.com/ew/static/podcast/2010/12/EW_TV_Insiders_12_3_10.mp3%5D

More about The Walking Dead:
‘The Walking Dead’: Let’s meet our zombie cover stars!
‘The Walking Dead’: This week’s EW cover story goes behind the scenes on TV’s best new show
‘Night of the Living Dead’: How a 42-year-old zombie movie refuses to die

Comments (55 total) Add your comment
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  • Sam

    First he says they’re picked up for a second season before the show even premieres, and now this. Is this dude Darabont an arrogant jerk, or is this just incidental? I’d hate to see a show this good be brought down by behind the scenes drama.

    • hot mantits

      hey sam. read the article before you comment. they dispelled the rumor. they didn’t confirm it. also, look back on any of darabonts interviews before the premiere and he states that they just want to get through the first season before they were about if there will be a second. see his interview with aintitcool where he debunks that rumor as well. and in the future, do some research before you demonize someone based on nonsense you heard in a chat room or a forum.

      • brando814

        Sam was just asking a question he didn’t really demonize anyone. However, the concern he has on the matter does shine through a lot, but since he didn’t forget the question mark when he’s good. Sadly, after how good last week’s episode was and the news that Charles Eglee left/is leaving doesn’t inspire the warmest of thoughts and I have to second Sam’s concerns. Darabont and Hurd’s respective attempts to clear the air (his was on TV Guide’s website) don’t sound terribly comforting either.

      • Hen

        All the show needs is Darabont and Robert.

      • Mac

        Darabont’s first episode was the best by far. The other other episodes, which weren’t directed by Darabont, are of lower quality. Maybe it’s because of the uncertainty at the time about whether or not the series was going to be picked-up, or maybe the budget prevented the producers from delivering the best quality, but I hope this last episode and the ones that come afterward are just as good or even better than the premiere episode.

      • Cash

        The first episode was slow, plodding, and pointless. The second episode was the best by far, and it’s been downhill ever since.

  • rich

    I love this show and its so far better then what i thought it would be…case in point last weeks ep. had very little zombie action but was still riviting and dramatic..my only beef DO WE HAVE TO WAIT TILL NEXT OCTOBER???THATS A REALLY LONG TIME since you only gave us six episodes this season lol

    • Wendy

      Dito on that. 6 episodes wasn’t enough time to really become invested in the show or the characters. It aso allows another show time to establish itself in the same time slot.

  • Sanders

    The show is dangerously diverging from the source material (the comic) I hope they stick to the comic storyline because it is one of the better thriller stories ever.

    • Bobbo

      Meh, Kirkman and Darabont have stated that they will follow the outline of the comic, but that it will not be a word-by-word re-telling.
      I’m fine with whatever they do as long as they keep the high level of quality up.

    • Skip182

      the decision to visit the cdc was brought up by darabont because the show is set in atlanta and that’s where the cdc is. the creator of the comics said he would have included that had he known that’s where the cdc was headquartered.

    • Hen

      The storyline is worked on by Robert Kirkman, I don’t think we have a thing to be worried about. It will follow the comic book, but with new ideas brought on by the fact that it has more minds to bring up good ideas. That’s what happened in this case, and Robert liked the idea. Ultimately though, it’s Darabont’s show, but I think it’s in good hands.

      Why would we want a word for word copy of the comics anyway? That’s what the comics are for.

    • Snsetblaze

      I hope they bring in some of the other characters other than The General that are featured in the comics. For example, I would like to see Tyrone, for one (while I like T-Bone, he is not the same character) and Hershel and his family, and most importantly, Michonne.

    • Chase

      I LOVE that Kirkman is working on the show. That’s so awesome. However as a writer I’m not sure if I’d like a second chance to tell a story, especially if the first one was a hit. I don’t have self esteem enough to say “Lightning is going to strike twice!” I wonder if he’s worried about that. Still though, the show is simply amazing, and I am psyched to hear the cast is signed for multiple seasons.

  • MCS

    They should fire whoever wrote last week’s episode. It was god awful. I know everyone has said it was dramatic and about character. I thought there was no real character development and no character moments that werent cliches we had seen before. I love this show, and yes I love that it is more about characters than zombies, but that episode was just bad.

    • Mike Tazman

      I agree, week 5 Wildfire was a dud. A transitory episode filler. Why didn’t they put down Jim instead of leaving him under a tree? He is going to go zombie so why not do him? It looked like Daryl was going to do him for a second, but he didn’t. At least it would have been some action. I think you need to kill at least 6 people a week. Human or zombie. Where is Merle? Did he bring the zombies to camp using the truck?

      • DavidJ

        So any episode that doesn’t have tons of zombie killing is just “filler”??
        Lol, okay…

      • Mathew

        They didn’t do Jim because that is what he requested, and they respected the request of a living man. His becoming a zombie was his choice and was no harm to them.

        And where did this stupid notion that Merle brought the zombies to the camp with the truck come from? So, Merle has magical zombie herding abilities now that he’s lost a hand? A master of zombie control, and not only that, he can leave zombies in one place and have them await his return for another load before they all finally move as one to attack.

        Merle is gone, he ran, and most likely will show up sometime in the future of the series. That however most likely wont be occurring this season, expect to see him appear as a villain look for vengeance later on.

      • MCS

        Matthew, David wasnt the first person to suggest Merle brought the zombies, it is a pretty common theory. Try being a bit respectful in your debates.

      • MCS

        sorry i meant mike not david.

      • Snsetblaze

        I don’t ascribe to the theory that Merle brought the zombies to the camp but I hope they don’t turn Merle into the General. I love Michael Rooker but the General always seemed a lot smarter and even more evil than Merle.

      • Richard Whitman

        Go back to watching Medium and Ghost Whisperer, then. Idiots.

      • Connor

        What, because they didnt like your an episode of a show they arent allowed to watch it? I think they all said they liked it, just not that episode. Get off your high horse Richard

      • Hutchy

        Ohhhh boy, ok here we go: its not the General, its the Governor. 2nd, if you are an action junkie that thinks Hawaii Five-o is fantastic, your going to hate this show. Kirkman has done several arcs where zombies dont even appear for 10-12 issues at a time (the prison). Thats ALMOST A YEAR in real life, for those who were reading the comic the first time around. This is not an action movie, nor will it become one. T-Bone is not Tyreese, Kirkman has stated this, and they need to get Cutty from the Wire to play him. As far as cliches, say wha huh?? I think Kirkman wrote “Vatos” just to embarrass anyone who was worried that this show would be cliche-ridden. Unless of course ,samurai-sword wielding former lawyers who lead zombies around on collars and chains, look like Gabrielle Union, and are the biggest a$$-kickers on the whole show are your idea of a cliche.

      • civ44

        @ Mike Tazman Merle couldn’t have brought the zombies in the truck because the back was open to the cab (rewatch episode 2 & 3 and you’ll see what I mean, they easily go from the back to the cab without having to get out of the truck). If Merle had herded them they would have ate him while he was trying to drive.

    • ghost feces

      magical zombie herding abilities-i loved that mathew
      -n.o.-

      • Hutchy

        I just picture Merle being like “Get in this got-damm truck, you geeks!! Aint you listening to me, boy?? I said get in here!! Cmon, y’all, I aint got all day!!”

    • meliot

      @mcs – I disagree. I really liked this episode. Despite the lack of “action,” I was super stressed. The scenes with Amy and Amanda were riviting and amazing; and leaving Jim on the side of the road was heart wrenching. Also, I’m not understanding your comment about “cliches we had seen before.” I have never seen this before.

      • civ44

        did you mean andrea? I agree though, this episode was amazing and had enough tense moments for me.

  • DavidJ

    I’d love to see Darabont direct more episodes next season. His premiere was so poetic and stylish (which provided a great contrast with the events of the story), but unfortunately the rest of the season has looked pretty drab and by-the-numbers in comparison.

  • Stacy

    Glad to here he didn’t fire all his writers-that would of made him seem like a jerk. I’ve been liking the show so far, but not loving it like some people. and i don’t care about anyone as much as I cared about Walter & Jesse during the 1st few episodes of Breaking Bad.

  • Question

    Is Norman Reedus going to be a series regular? Goodness I hope so because Murphy can be on my tv anytime!!!

    • Andrew Baillie

      The show doesn’t follow the comic word for word by any means. It does capture key images though. The zombie eating the deer, the horse buffet, gore down smear down, affair and yes, leaving Jim to die alone at his request. He belived as a zombie he could reunite with his family. If you read the comic, you would understand that scene. That is ofcourse you don’t already and I’ll be moving right along.

  • Jacquie V

    I love this show, and I also love that X-Files actors are popping up…LOL…Marita Covarrubias and Bill Scully! YAY! :0)

    • Christina

      Noah Emmerich is playing Dr. Jenner. Pat Skipper played Bill Scully Jr.

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  • anonymous

    Thank You for not giving the writers their walking papers.

  • Jared

    Good. I remember reading the initial report and it not making any sense. If you have a show that is doing well with critics and far exceeding expectations with viewers, it doesn’t make sense to completely change the creative team.

  • JMC

    OCTOBER??? That’s not a really long time, it’s a terribly, incredibly, annoyingly long time! I’m hooked! I’m a fan. I love ZOMBIES and I’m thrilled the first ever zombie tv drama is doing so well on the air. I could see it premiering in late July and the season finale in October!!! How about that? 13 episodes starting last week in July ending in October! Please AMC!

  • Paula

    Danny Trejo would make a great governor!

  • John

    It is BS that there are only 6 episodes and we have to wait almost a year. BS. What is this f’in HBO???

  • Tony

    THIS SHOW IS MY FAVORITE !

    I love this show! It’s been a loooong time that I really got into a cool creative show. Everything on TV is the same old worn out drama crap. The special effects are top of the line feature movie quality, I hope that guy stays.

    I just really hope this show keeps going. I don’t think the ratings were better because of a stupid article…who watches a show they have no interest in because of an article about firing the staff?!

    I think it’s because the word is spreading that it’s a really good show. And to have a quality show about zombie apocalypse…I mean does it really get any better?

  • Jeff

    OMG….October?!? You’ve GOT to be frickin kidding me? That’s like a lifetime away. 6 episodes and then wait a year? Does anyone know why this is? I didn’t see it in the article. That’s total torture.

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