Frank Darabont, former showrunner for The Walking Dead, is now suing AMC over the circumstances of his firing midway through the second season. Darabont claims AMC let him go for fabricated reasons and is withholding millions of dollars he was meant to be paid (hence the suit). The deposition has now been unsealed for public consumption, and within it, Darabont makes a lot of claims casting AMC executives in an unflattering light. In particular, the “air conditioning” story.
“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.”
Darabont gripes about the executives cutting the budget for the second season despite the first generating record ratings and profits. “That was bad enough, but then they dropped the bomb on us that, oh by the way, they’re keeping the tax credit,” he said. “They’re going to pocket the tax credit. So, between the two you’ve got a full 25% cut across the board.”
The deposition was provided to The Hollywood Reporter, who excerpted several passages in their report. AMC provided a counter-statement to THR, saying “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.”
AMC may have trouble convincing a jury Darabont is just a disgruntled ex-worker, because he has a friend who’s backing him up: Glen Mazzara, Darabont’s former assistant who was the third season showrunner before leaving himself. Mazzara says, “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.”