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Ex-’Walking Dead’ Boss’ AMC Emails Reveal Bitter Season 2 Production

Walking Dead Frank Darabont Lawsuit Emails
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

It’s been quite some time since the chaos of The Walking Dead losing showrunners, but co-creator Frank Darabont’s legal war with AMC rages on. A newly-public cache of summary judgments, depositions and more puts some of Darabont’s exit in context, including some intense email exchanges before the firing.

The Hollywood Reporter published a lengthy update on the $280 million case, which sees Darabont and Creative Artists Agency arguing they were denied rightful profit participation from The Walking Dead. All of that came after Darabont’s 2011 firing, which stemmed from AMC slashing the Season 2 budget by 25%, demanding to see scripts in advance and repeated clashes with camera operators, directors and more.

Part of the unsealed documents include a June 2011 email with executive producer Gale Ann Hurd, which … you should probably read this one for yourself:

F— you all for giving me chest pains because of the staggering f—ing incompetence, blindness to the important beats, and the beyond-arrogant lack of regard for what is written being exhibited on set every day. I deserve better than a heart attack because people are too stupid to read a script and understand the words. Does anybody disagree with me? Then join the C-cam operator and go find another job that doesn’t involve deliberately f—ing up my show scene by scene.

And another to AMC brass:

Please let’s stop invoking ‘the writers room.’ There IS no writers room, which you know as well as I do. I am the writers room. The f—ing lazy a–holes who were supposedly going to be my showrunners threw that responsibility on me after wasting five months of my time.

For his part, Darabont stated in an affidavit that “I stand by these emails to the last detail,” as “They were sent during an intense and stressful two-year period of work during which I was fighting like a mother lion to protect the show from harm.” The argument essentially boils down to The Walking Dead making significant money as one of AMC’s most popular series, though “vertical integration” and “self-dealing” on the network’s part diluted profits. AMC also issued a response to Darabont’s emails:

Darabont’s erratic and unprofessional performance and his behavioral and interpersonal issues during Season 2 raised a number of concerns for AMC Studios. Among other things, his failure to timely deliver scripts, failure to adequately supervise the writers’ room, and his volatile and disturbing interactions with staff and talent were impacting production.

It’s a fascinating read overall, albeit a bitter struggle for both sides with no immediate end in sight. You can check out the full write-up above, and stay tuned for more from The Walking Dead at Comic-Con next week.

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