'Sons of Anarchy' showrunner claims AMC fired Frank Darabont because 'Mad Men' 'gutted' AMC


Image Credit: Alan Hess/PR Photos

UPDATED: AMC’s year got off to an awkward start, beginning with very public contract negotiations with Mad Men. Then came the unexpected departure of showrunner Frank Darabont from The Walking Dead, and the revelation that the network was apparently playing hardball with Breaking Bad over a shortened final season. Toss in the audience-frustrating season finale of The Killing, and the network looks like a genuine three-ring circus, albeit a circus defined by moral ambiguity. Last night, Sons of Anarchy showrunner Kurt Sutter drove his metaphorical motorcycle into this metaphorical circus and metaphorically shot the elephant so he could cook it on his metaphorical spit. Metaphors!

Sutter took to Twitter in a series of messages that directly attacked AMC and Mad Men showrunner Matthew Weiner for their role in Darabont’s departure. He began: “why darabont got fired — weiner. he held AMC hostage, broke their bank, budgets were slashed, s— rolled down hill onto [Breaking Bad showrunner Vince] Gilligan and Frank.” Then the claws really came out: “no one else wants to f—ing say it, but the greed of Mad Men is killing the other two best shows on tv — breaking bad and walking dead.”

Sutter concludes, rather starkly: “Darabont reacted strongly to slashed budgets. he made mistakes, he was fired. no creative in town will trust AMC to back up their artists…i don’t know MW, got no beef with him. just hate that Darabont is being demonized. no one has the balls to tell the truth. MM gutted AMC.” (Responding to the allegations, a spokeswoman for AMC told EW: “Nothing could be further from the truth. We respect Kurt as a writer, but not as our CFO.”)

Sutter, for his part, has continued to clarify his allegations on Twitter, noting most recently, “This is not me vs. Matt. the issue is that amc should not have compromised their other shows to appease his $$ demands. it was bad business.”

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

Read more:
Kurt Sutter previews ‘Sons of Anarchy’ at Comic-Con
‘Sons of Anarchy’ creator slams Emmys over snubs

Comments (88 total) Add your comment
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  • M

    hmmmm… the plot thickens

    • What?

      Mad Men is incredibly overrated, its a little too soap opera-ish. AMC should have cut it loose. Some of the best tv is done when shows are kept to short seasons lasting 10-13 episodes and then having only a few seasons (4 max). Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, and The Killing are all far better than Mad Men

      • Justin P.

        No way, what. Mad Men is the best show on tv right now. Alas, Sutter is absolutely right. Weiner was greedy, and it cost AMC Darabont.

      • Jay

        @Justin P: Mad Men is good, no doubt…. but have you watched the other AMC shows mentioned? Walking Dead & Breaking Bad are both FAR superior in just about every way

      • E L

        Mad Men MADE AMC. There would be no Walking Dead or Breaking Bad without it’s success.

      • E L

        Also Walking Dead kind of blows. Terrible writing in the last few episodes. That said, it could totally be improved upon in a second season.

        Lack of money isn’t their problem. It’s the writing.

      • Dave

        The Walking Dead is NOT better than Mad Men. Walking Dead had a fantastic pilot, but then it got bogged down in stereotypical characters and cliches. It’s still a good show, but it isn’t anywhere near the quality of Mad Men or Breaking Bad.

      • Rangefinder

        @Dave, couldn’t agree more. AMC made the right move in backing their most prestigious series… though whether Mad Men or Breaking Bad is the better show depends on which I happen to be watching at that moment! (And either way, The Walking Dead isn’t part of the equation.)

      • dgh

        Just because Mad Men put AMC on the map doesn’t mean its a superior show. I have a feeling if AMC doesn’t stop kissing Mad Men’s ass or start treating their other series with the same devotion they are gonna find themselves in the same boat they was before Mad Men came around.

      • LMFAO

        LOUIE is better than any of these shows.

      • SNIKT!

        Oh Lordy…saying Mad Men is creatvely a better show than Walkng Dead is like sayng Justin Biber is a better singer and performer than Elvis. Just plan NO. Cliche characters? Obviously you haven’t even watched the show. Or your taste level is highly suspect. Breaking Bad is simply the best show on TV at the moment, cable OR network. However, the time has come for the endgame and I am glad to see AMC is giving into Vince on that front. Guess we’ll see how bad the AMC brass screwed their golden zombie in the Darabont-less second season shortly.

    • Chester

      I think “Wilfred” is better than all of them.

  • Foxy

    Makes sense to me Courtney

  • paige

    i can kinda agree. thing is, Mad Men made AMC- theyre backed up in a very tight corner.

    • dgh

      They can also destroy it AMC won’t survive if they keep treating their other series the way they do.

    • Not ready for the big time

      It seems like AMC has so much ambition but so little money that it could not sustain supporting the budgets of its original TV shows. Although AMC decided to ditch the old way of doing business of screening old movies by screening original TV series starting with Mad Men, it unfortunately does not have the financial muscle to pay for all the original programming it has which is a pity as this will affect the quality of its TV shows. Apparently AMC is not ready for the big time with the other big boys of cable such as HBO, Showtime or FX.

  • Jesse

    I honestly don’t disagree with any of this. I think Matt Weiner and Charlie Collier both came out of the MM negotiations looking bad, and then Charlie Collier looked worse with everything else AMC did (or, in the case of The Killing, everything AMC didn’t do).

    Better luck with “Hell on Wheels,” AMC!

  • Taxi

    So refreshing to hear someone in Hollywood call a spade a spade.

  • redvector

    Sounds like he nailed it. And I have no interest is seeing another season of The Killing. It was a cheap and lazy way to end a season.

    • What?

      The Killing was as much about the journey to the solution as the actual solution will be. Its so ridiculous to hear people hear otherwise, the same people annoy me who complain about LOST not spelling out every last detail in the finale.

      • K

        Thank you. Totally agree. Don’t blame a show because the promotions made you think the show was going to be a certain way.

      • mikeman

        the killing is easily the worst show on amc. i’d be surprised if season 2 gets any numbers at all after last season’s giant middle finger of a finale.

      • Rangefinder

        @mikeman – Perhaps, but I’ll certainly be watching! And I’m guessing I won’t be alone…

      • Alex F

        You’re all wrong. Best show on TV: According to Jim!

      • dgh

        LOST shouldn’t be in the same sentence as The Killing. With LOST it left you wanting more as The Killing left me wanting my time back. It wasn’t even the ending that did that show in it was the episode that wasted the whole hour trying to find her son.

      • minak12345

        I was all prepared to enjoy the “journey” of the Killing. However, the plot took us no where and the characters were either stupid or unbelievable. Just a horrible show. Oh, and when you are told at the beginning of the season that the murder will be solved, it’s not ridiculous to be upset when the murder is left unsolved.

      • Brett

        Don’t mention “Lost” in the same sentence as “The Killing.” “Lost” was a bloated, meandering, self-indulgent steaming pile that thankfully ended. “The Killing” has the opportunity to right itself by tightening its pacing in the second season and solving its first season mystery quickly.

  • Jay

    I enjoy all of these AMC shows, but in my opinion, Mad Men is the most disposable of all of them.
    If any of these shows need to be shown the money, it’s Breaking Bad. That show has me literally on the edge of my seat most episodes

    • Danny

      People are way too in love with that snorefest Madman, it is not that good! Walking Dead deserves a bigger budget and it is an awesome show! This guy tells it like it is!

    • Steve

      Totally agree about Breaking Bad.

      The sad thing is, it was looking like AMC was the savior of quality television, and now corporate greed and stupidity are destroying that chance. We all know the big 4 networks could never create a show as outstanding as Breaking Bad.

  • Chris in Virginia

    I don’t claim to know anything about AMC’s finances, etc. but I do know that as a viewer, AMC has (had?) a reputation for some of the finest television programs around. How they could mess this up so badly – the delayed Mad Men season, the loss of Darabont, etc. – is just mind-boggling. AMC is like the young up-and-comer star who gets too big for his britches and flames out. (Ahem, Alex Pettyfer.) They need to look at the big picture – they are building a reputation that could sustain them for years. Don’t screw it up now, folks!

  • Clay

    This actually makes some sense of the craziness at AMC. SOA had some ups an downs last season but I love the fact that Sutter doesn’t have a filter.

    You can’t pay a show runner $10 mil per season for a 13-episode critical darling. I don’t care how great a writer/director he is… you take the impossibly good looking (and talented) actors off the screen and you’ve got a period mini-series that gets canceled after one year.

  • Thom

    He should spend less time complaining on Twitter and more time making Sons of Anarchy good again after the wretched last season.

    Also, it’ snot Matthew Wiener’s – or ANY showrunner’s – job to look out for the OTHER shows on that network.

    It’s the network’s screw up, spending more money than they have.

  • John

    I’ve tried and tried to get on the Mad Men bandwagon and just can’t. NOTHING HAPPENS on the show! But Breaking Bad and the Walking Dead. . . I’m on the edge of my seat for every episode. Breaking Bad feels like I’m watching a weekly “Pulp Fictionesgue” type of show. Intense!

    • Mike

      So apparently by “nothing happens” you mean “no one dies”??? lol A lot happens on Mad Men, but it has a totally different objective than Breaking Bad and Walking Dead. It’s more of a slow burn of a show but there’s some excellent tormented characters on it. And the historical backdrop adds a nice touch too. But it’s not for everyone.

      • Danny

        Yeah some people like watching paint dry too.

      • MM is terrible

        The Emperor has no clothes!!!!! That is MM – all hype, no substance. it is NOT good.
        As Uncle Stevie stated in this magazine, “MM is a soap opera with a retro setting.”

  • George

    Maybe Darabont was canned because – outside of the pilot – the rest of Walking Dead was pretty lousy.

    It went from compelling, tension-filled storytelling to a lame “dumb characters making dumb decisions” B-style horror conventions.

    If he’s responsible for that slide as a showrunner, then he did fail the show.

    If was responsible, then I actually think that a new showrunner might make the show better.

    • B

      The highest rated show on cable, and AMC fired him because of an “artistic” reason? Stop lying to yourself, George. Have you read ANY of the articles involved, or are you just here to say you don’t like the show. Go back to watching Glee.

      • Tom Bergeron

        Hey I like Glee AND The Walking Dead. You, sir, are a snob

  • Pam

    The more information that comes out regarding behind the scenes deliberations, the more sad it gets. These are some of the best shows on TV right now and I will be sad if they are gutted due to money. The Hollywood Reporter did a great article on this whole debacle, published yesterday.

  • LeezyLou

    Okay honestly Mad Men is amazing. The look, the talent, the writing and I have to say this past season was the best yet. That being said I do think Weiner took advantage of his position at the network. MM is still the biggest kid on the AMC campus so he’s definitely able to make demands – even at the cost of others. The truth is AMC has the best programming on television right now. That being said I’m not IN LOVE with The Walking Dead just yet. Whatever the reason he’s gone might be, one thing is for sure, Frank Darabont is a huge talent who doesn’t necessarily really need that show. Hopefully the show doesn’t end up really needing him either – otherwise I may never love Walking Dead

    • Mike

      I hate to tell you this man, but Mad Men is actually the low man on the totem pole when it comes to viewers, I believe it gets over 1 million less viewers than Breaking Bad, and over 2 million less than Walking Dead, makes no sense to give Weiner more money if his show isn’t keeping up with the others…

    • MM is terrible

      honestly, MM is NOT amazing. it is the opposite of amazing.

  • Jomana S.

    Breaking Bad is the best show on TV FULL STOP!!!!!!!!

    • Brett

      Not even the best show on AMC.

      • Sumner

        Yes it is. It’s closest competitor could have been Walking Dead, but a tighter budget and loss of a showrunner could prove messy. There’s a couple things I don’t think some of these Walking Dead-haters understand:

        A) You can’t complain of a show in it’s first season turning awful after the pilot. The pilot or first episode tantalizes, and the rest of the first season has to build up the rest of the show. Many great shows, Buffy for instance, hit its pace in its next seasons. Plus, complaining that the season finale sucked is pointless. That was JUST TWO EPISODES, and the season was only 6 long.

        2) The whole point of zombie stuff is people being stupid. Watch a Romero movie, there isn’t one where they don’t act like idiots!

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