Last summer, industry experts and TV fans were stunned by Frank Darabont's abrupt dismissal from "The Walking Dead" shortly after Darabont and the cast were promoting the second season at the San Diego Comic-Con International. At the time, rumors swirled that the main conflict between AMC and Darabont was over significant budget cuts made to the series, but Darabont largely remained silent on the issue.
The story flared up again earlier this month when "Being Human" star Sam Witwer unloaded on AMC about Darabont's departure, the budget cuts and an aborted flashback episode that would have chronicled the fall of Atlanta to the zombie apocalypse from a solider's point of view. Darabont later came forward with an extended description of what he had planned.
During a new interview with TV Guide, Darabont finally breaks his silence about his dismissal from "The Walking Dead." And although Darabont doesn't fully disclose what happened, he makes it clear that budget battles were at the heart of the matter.
"It was, for the sake of my cast and my crew, a tremendously regretful thing to face, to have to leave," related Darabont. "But I was really given no choice. I don't understand the thinking behind, 'Oh, this is the most successful show in the history of basic cable. Let's gut the budgets now.' I never did understand that and I think they got tired of hearing me complain about it. It's a little more complicated than that, but that's as far as I want to go with it because otherwise it's just provoking more controversy and that's not really of interest to me. I just want to keep my head down and do my job and be allowed to do my job, that's key, and continue to, hopefully, enjoy it and do good work."
Regarding the close relationship he had with the cast and crew, Darabont added "These people are like family to me. It has not been easy for anybody. Let me put it that way: It was like a death in the family. Only I was the dead guy. I felt like William Holden, face down in the swimming pool, narrating this thing."
Darabont also noted that the reason for his exit was never openly confirmed by the network.
"It was a lot of obfuscation and on my end just maintaining what I thought was the most dignified silence that I could," said Darabont. "Who needs a cat fight in the press, oy vey. There's plenty of stuff in this world that I'm excited about doing, and how lovely that we're getting the opportunity to do this with TNT. How great is that[?]"
During the TV Guide story, Darabont also speaks at length about his new TNT project, "LA Noir," which takes place during the late '40s and early '50s at the height of the war between Mickey Cohen's mob and the corrupt Los Angeles Police Department.
Darabont noted that he will use a mixture of historical figures and original creations in the series, including his lead character.
"That's going to be the fun of doing this, to invent that tapestry of characters," revealed Darabont. "The very first character I came up with, an invention of mine, is a character named Joe Teague, who was on the police force. And he's caught in that moral gray zone between the William Parkers of the world and the Mickey Cohens of this world. And what a great, fun gray zone to be in. Caught, as he puts it, between the white hats and the black hats."
"LA Noir" will be filming in Los Angeles beginning in April.
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