ByAllanah Faherty, writer at Creators.co
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

While on screen Rick and co. might be locked in a physical battle against the living dead, back in the real world AMC is locked in a legal battle with former showrunner and developer of The Walking Dead, Frank Darabont.

Until now, only part of Darabont's deposition in his lawsuit against AMC has been available, but now it has been unsealed, and the former showrunner is holding nothing back.

What is the lawsuit actually about?

Darabont and Shane Walsh in the series pilot
Darabont and Shane Walsh in the series pilot

The legal battle has been ongoing for almost two years, with Darabont taking action against the network in the hope of claiming unpaid profit participation cash. The situation stems from a contract Darabont signed back in Season 1, which included a clause stating that he would be eligible for profit participation for all future seasons, as well as any derivatives of The Walking Dead, after acting as showrunner for Seasons 1 and 2 of the series.

However, the issue is that Darabont was fired as showrunner halfway through the production of Season 2, which AMC claims means that Darabont is not eligible for profit participation. On the flip side, Darabont and his supports claim that he did in fact work on all episodes on Season 2, and therefore should be eligible for reimbursement. Darabont and his agents at CAA are claiming he could be owed "tens of millions of dollars in profits from the hit series."

What does the newly unsealed deposition say?

In the unsealed deposition it's clear that Darabont made sure to hold nothing back. This is particularly shown when he talks about his conversation with AMC, regarding them implementing budget cuts on the series, despite the first season receiving record numbers:

“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.”

Darabont claims that AMC drastically cut the budget from $3.4 million to $3 million per episode for the second season, and in addition to that pocketed the tax credit that the show received for filming in Georgia.

Joel Stillerman president of original programming and development for AMC
Joel Stillerman president of original programming and development for AMC

He was also particularly scathing to the AMC executives, and the way in which they conducted their rare on-set visits. The deposition reads:

"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."

Meanwhile Darabont said the cast and crew on the series were "picking ticks from their groin and ankles at night."

Susie Fitzgerald, vp of scripted programming
Susie Fitzgerald, vp of scripted programming

Regarding the claim by AMC that he didn't work on the entire second season of the show, Darabont claims that although he left the writers room in the middle of the season he still provided showrunner services for all episodes of the second season. Darabont says that his departure from the writers room was only so he could manage the "crisis-level problems arising on the first episode of the second season." He also goes onto say that he cleared this decision with Susie Fitzgerald, vp of scripted programming, something which Fitzgerald later denied, shocking him.

Luckily for Darabont, Glen Mazzara, who took over showrunner responsibilities, has supported his claim that he worked on the entirety of Season 2, saying that every episode of Season 2 had Darabont's "imprint as well as a cinematic approach to filming that material."

Glen Mazzara
Glen Mazzara

Shortly after the release of the deposition, AMC issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter which said:

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.

With this deposition just being unsealed, it seems as though this already lengthy legal battle will only get longer and more ugly as time goes on.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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