Court documents show why Frank Darabont, director of The Walking Dead was fired from the show

March 1, 2016
First Published On: March 1, 2016
by HitBerry

Court documents show why Frank Darabont, director of the TV show The Walking Dead, was fired from the show.

 Film director, screenwriter and producer Darabont has already been nominated for the Academy Award thrice but he is still most prominently known as the mastermind behind AMC horror series, The Walking Dead. And most of us clearly remember how this visionary director was fired from his position by AMC back in 2011 but none of us knew/know the actual reason behind his dismissal. But now after almost five years Darabont has opened up about why he was fired from his job.

The screen writer for King Kong developed and executive produced the first season and a part of the second season of The Walking Dead. If he hadn’t developed the TV show then we would have hardly witnessed one hell of a show that captured everyone. So did AMC fired Darabont despite the highest ratings in the first season? A few court documents will surely give you the answer. 

The Golden Globe nominated screenwriter filed a lawsuit against the network claiming that AMC breached his contract and deprived him of millions of dollars in profits.

The Hollywood Reporter has apparently gotten hold of Darabont's deposition for the case and has shed some light on the matter and gave full information on the case and what Darabont has to say about AMC. 

With the help of several online media sources, we have brought you exclusive excerpt from the legal documents. In the deposition, the talented movie maker has clearly described how the popular network made up financial problems on the show. 

In the document, Darabont explained: “I remember Joel Stillerman [president of original programming and development for AMC], in a meeting in my office, when we were all discussing the issues of the upcoming season, we said to him, 'Surely that the success of the show, which, by the way, you guys are bragging about because we keep getting e-mails saying, 'Hey, we're breaking viewership records in 120 countries around the world by hundreds of percent, in some countries by over 1,000%,' at the same time we're hearing how successful the show is for you, you're telling us that this, this budget issue is not going to budge at all. And he said, 'The success of the show has no bearing on this discussion,' in a rather icy manner.”

And as per Darabont, AMC deducted the budget for the show to 3 million while the initial budget was 3.4 million.

“That was bad enough, but then they dropped the bomb on us that, oh by the way, they're keeping the tax credit,” Darabont further added. “They're going to pocket the tax credit. So, between the two you've got a full 25% cut across the board.”

Darabont also revealed how AMC executives rarely visited the set of The Walking Dead when the crew members used to work in 110-degree heat. Darabont said: “When they did rarely show up on the [Georgia-based] set, [they] would ... drive in from the airport in their air conditioned car, race into the air conditioned tent we had there so the actors could have a break and not pass out from the heat, poke their heads out on occasion, and half an hour later jump back in their car and fly back to their air conditioned office in New York. I had a tremendous lack of respect for them."

While talking about his firing from the show, the producer said that AMC "concocted" the reasons for his dismissal. He said: “They accused me of not having directors tone meetings. That's absolutely not true, I have had a directors tone meeting with every single director this season.' 

Darabont also revealed that he helped with re-shoots and editing, even claimed he provided showrunner services for all of the second season episodes. 

After THR released the deposition, AMC issued a statement to the online magazine claiming that they had paid Darabont fully.

“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,” read the statement. 

While AMC is defending itself and claiming that they had followed every terms and conditions, Glen Mazzara, Darabont's former top lieutenant fully supports the former showrunner. After Darabont’s dismissal, Mazzara took over as showrunner in the second half of season 2 and all of season 3. 

The showrunner claimed: “I believe that Frank was executing his responsibilities and duties as showrunner and there was a personal rift between [Walking Dead co-creator Robert] Kirkman and Darabont and between Darabont and the AMC executives, and that when the material for the finale came in and Frank said I need some time to figure out a plan of how to pursue this and what we're going to re-shoot and what it will take to do this, AMC was unwilling to give him that time to solve the issue and they let him go without notifying him that he was, that the issues were that series. That if he did not appropriately solve these issues, he was about to be fired.”

Despite all the claims and accusations against each other, we don’t know for sure who is right, Darabont or AMC.

Darabont is often considered one of the most talented minds in Hollywood with several blockbuster movies and hit TV shows under his belt. 

He is married  to costume designer wife Karyn Wagner and the couple doesn't have any children. He has an estimated net worth of $15 million.