UPDATED, Wednesday 2 p.m.: AMC has responded to Darabont’s statements, saying that it “will continue vigorously defend against this lawsuit.
Read the full statement below.
“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.”
“The Walking Dead” creator Frank Darabont‘s antipathy for his former bosses at AMC is apparently very much alive.
In an unsealed deposition given by Darabont in relation to his lawsuit against AMC, the former showrunner of the zombie drama tore into AMC executives, accusing them of slashing the budget of the show while pocketing a tax credit for the series, to the detriment of the cast and crew.
In the deposition, taken in Los Angeles in May 2015, Darabont said that the show was hit with a 25 percent budget cut, despite its tremendous commercial success.
“[T]hen they pocketed the tax credit,” Darabont continued. “So, between the two you’ve got a full 25 percent cut across the board. Now, that tax credit, by the way, was something that, again, you go back to the treatment of the cast and crew. The cast and crew were earning, busting their butts, leaving it all out on the field, to earn. The fact that we couldn’t then take that tax credit and put it on the screen or alleviate shooting conditions to any degree, I thought that was adding insult to injury.”
Darabont went on to claim that AMC brass would “rarely” show up on set and, when they did, would pop in and enjoy cushy conditions, despite the often harsh circumstances under which “The Walking Dead” was shot.
“This, by the way, coming from the people who would, when they did rarely show up on the set, would, 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 fly back to their air-conditioned office in New York,” Darabont hissed in the deposition.
“I had a tremendous lack of respect for them,” Darabont said, adding, “They had no sympathy, they had no compassion.”
In the deposition, Darabont also recalled the show reaching “serious crisis-level problems arising out of the first episode of the second season,” which prompted him to tell AMC vice president of scripted programming Susie Fitzgerald that he would need to travel to set in Georgia to shoot, even though it would mean a delay in script delivery.
“She said, ‘Absolutely I agree with your assessment,'” Darabont recalled Fitzgerald saying.
In the deposition Darabont claimed Fitzgerald later denied having the conversation with him, which he says “floored me because she’s the executive in charge. That’s a pretty important conversation to have and not one that’s going to slip her mind.”
Darabont isn’t the only one who’s been weighing in about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at “The Walking Dead.” In his own deposition, Glen Mazzara — Darabont’s hand-picked second-in-command on the series and Daabont’s successor as showrunner — opined that Darabont carrying on at the helm might lead to the show’s doom.
“If you had not taken over as showrunner and Mr. Darabont had continued showrunning ‘The Walking Dead; in Season 2, do you believe that would have killed the show?” Mazzara was asked during the deposition, taken in September 2015.
“Given the status of Episode 201, I would like to say that I did think Episode 201 was a show killer,” Mazzara replied.
Darabont, who exited “The Walking Dead” in 2011, sued AMC in 2013, claiming that he was wrongfully fired from the series, and that he is entitled to proceeds from the show.
According to his suit, AMC both produces and airs the series, and struck up an arrangement in which the network would be “selling” the show to itself, leading to “the improper and abusive practice of ‘self-dealing.'”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.