Will “Walking Dead” suffer from Frank Darabont’s exit?

By Adam Frazier
Hollywoodnews.com: Frank Darabont’s sudden exit from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” caught fans of the zombie drama off guard, being as the writer/producer/director spent nearly five years shopping the comic book series by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore around Hollywood as a television series.

The news is even more surprising considering the showrunner was on hand for “The Walking Dead” panel this past Friday at San Diego Comic-Con alongside fellow executive producers Robert Kirkman and Gale Anne Hurd.

During the panel, Darabont confirmed the second season will pick up immediately where the first left off. “Season two picks up with five seconds of overlap with the end of the first season. They’re driving away in the truck and the CDC blows up. None of this ‘six months later’ crap.”

What’s more concerning is that Darabont has chosen to walk away from “The Walking Dead” midway through production on its thirteen-episode second season.

No official reason has been given yet for his departure from the show, though it is highly likely that the director of “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile” will be returning to the big screen.

A day after Frank Darabont stepped down as showrunner, Glen Mazzara (“The Shield”) has been tapped to take charge of the series. Mazzara joined the “The Walking Dead” after the its six-episode freshman season concluded.

Whether or not Darabont will continue on with the series remains unclear. Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, who broke the news about his departure, reports talks are still ongoing and it is likely Darabont will stay on in some capacity.

Apparently Darabont’s departure will not affect production on the show, which continues as scheduled. While it’s comforting to know that Kirkman and Hurd are still involved as executive producers, the loss of Darabont (especially in the middle of production) leaves me more than concerned about the future of “The Walking Dead.”

So much of the success of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” was due to Darabont’s distinct vision for the series. Could you imagine “Mad Men” without Matthew Weiner or “Breaking Bad” with Vince Gilligan? Darabont’s understanding of the horror genre (and more importantly, his understanding of character and adaptation) made the show what it is.

In any case, “The Walking Dead” will return to AMC on Sunday, October 16 – and footage of season two looks incredible so far. If you haven’t seen the Comic-Con preview, check it out here.

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