'Walking Dead' shock: Showrunner leaving as season 4 greenlit

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AMC’s hit drama The Walking Dead has lost its showunner — again.

Glen Mazzara, who took over the zombie drama’s showrunner position from Frank Darabont last year, is leaving the show.

The cable series that’s brutal about killing off characters is seemingly just as tough to survive as a chief writer-producer. Here’s a flurry of official statements:

Mazzara: “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.”

Here’s a joint statement from AMC and Mazzara: “Today, AMC announces the season 4 pick-up of The Walking Dead. AMC also jointly announces with Glen Mazzara today that for future seasons, the two parties have mutually decided to part ways. Glen guided the series creatively for seasons 2 and 3. AMC is grateful for his hard work. We are both proud of our shared success. 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. This decision is amicable and Glen will remain on for post-production on [the remainder of the third season, which starts in February] as showrunner and executive producer.”

And now here’s Robert Kirkman: “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.”

The news is bound to bewilder fans and more than a few in Hollywood. The Walking Dead hit series-high ratings this fall, beating all the broadcast network shows in the key adults 18-49 demo. This wouldn’t seem to be a wise time to change leadership. Then again, Walking Dead was already a big hit when Darabont exited in the middle of production on season two and many thought changing showrunners might hurt the series then — and it clearly didn’t.

Oh, and yeah, The Walking Dead is now officially renewed for a fourth season. Anybody want a showrunner gig?

UPDATE: Sons of Anarchy and Last Resort showrunners blast AMC for Mazzara exit

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