Frank Darabont, the deposed showrunner of the hit zombie series The Walking Dead, recently had some harsh words for AMC executives, accusing them of cutting the show’s budget, ignoring the hard work of the cast and crew, and rarely showing up to the set under his watch.
Darabont’s complaints were revealed this week in a newly unsealed deposition he gave in September as part of his ongoing lawsuit against AMC, whom he is suing for millions of dollars. Darabont, whose other credits include The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, originally developed The Walking Dead for TV (from Robert Kirkman’s comic book) but was fired in 2011, during production of the second season.
In court papers obtained by EW, Darabont said AMC slashed the show’s original budget from $3.4 million per episode to $3 million, while also deciding to pocket the show’s tax credit for filming in Georgia.
“The cast and crew were earning, busting their butts, leaving it all on the field,” Darabont said in the deposition. “The fact that we couldn’t then take that tax credit and put it on the screen or alleviate shooting conditions to any degree, I thought that was adding insult to injury.”
He added that while cast and crew members regularly endured hardships such as sweltering heat and pervasive insects, AMC executives would only show up to the set infrequently and briefly before “jump[ing] back in their car and fly[ing] back to their air conditioned office in New York. I had a tremendous lack of respect for them.”
Darabont’s successor as showrunner, Glen Mazzara, also gave a deposition in the lawsuit. In it, he said he thought Darabont was “a good showrunner” and that he had reason to think AMC treated Darabont unfairly. But he also said the version of the season 2 premiere that shaped up under Darabont could have been a “show killer.”
A spokesman for AMC said in a statement to EW, “Frank Darabont has made it clear that he has strong opinions about AMC and the events that led to his departure from The Walking Dead. The reality is that he has been paid millions of dollars under the terms of his contract, which we honored, and we will continue to vigorously defend against this lawsuit.”
The Hollywood Reporter first reported on Darabont’s deposition.