'Walking Dead' Deposition Reveals Season Two Turmoil

Former showrunner Frank Darabont talks about how budget cuts and infighting nearly killed zombie smash

'The Walking Dead' nearly didn't make it past its second season premiere, a deposition from former showrunner Frank Darabont reveals Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Despite The Walking Dead being the biggest success in AMC history, an unsealed deposition reveals that the show's early days was marred by unexpected budget cuts, creative disagreements and mismanagement. The revelations comes straight from Frank Darabont, the Shawshank Redemption director who developed and produced the show's first season before he was abruptly fired. In his deposition against AMC - an effort to recoup profit share from the massively popular show - the former showrunner admits that he has a "tremendous lack of respect" for the network executives, The Hollywood Reporter writes.

Darabont accused AMC executives of hiding in air-conditioned offices during the hot Atlanta shoot. By the time they reached production on the Season Two premiere, there were "crisis-level problems arising." When AMC decided to part ways with Darabont, he alleges that they "concocted" a reason — that he was shirking on some showrunner responsibilities, a claim he denies — to fire him. Because of when he was let go, Darabont only received 7.5 percent of profits from the series, as opposed to the 10 percent he was initially entitled to.

Elsewhere in the deposition, former Walking Dead showrunner Glenn Mazzara, who took over on the series after Darabont's exit, said that he felt AMC execs treated his predecessor unfairly. "I believe that Frank was executing his responsibilities and duties ... and there was a personal rift between [co-creator Robert] Kirkman and Darabont, and between Darabont and the AMC executives," Mazzara said, later adding that he only stepped in as showrunner during the second season to save the show.

In a statement, AMC told The Hollywood Reporter, "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."