Ever since AMC removed Glen Mazzara as showrunner of its monster hit series The Walking Dead last month, fans have been buzzing with speculation about the reasons behind the split.
Appearing on a discussion panel during the NATPE/Content First Conference in Miami, Florida, Mazzara wasn't sure of the answers either. "When people involved with the show are looking at the long-term plan, you know, they want something different. And what those differences are, you'd have to ask AMC," he said on Tuesday.
"I was a hired gun coming in to support the creator of the show and, through odd circumstances, I ended up becoming the showrunner," he explained. After joining the show's writing staff during the first season, Mazzara was named showrunner during production of Season 2 when Frank Darabont left under a similar cloud of controversy. "I was just glad that I was able to contribute and not mess up the show, I see that as a win," he laughed.
Rumors have swirled that the root of the problem in both instances is Robert Kirkman, the creator of the original comic book series. Insiders suggest that Kirkman insists on maintaining a certain amount of control, and AMC doesn't want to lose his stamp of approval. While Mazzara didn't exactly name names, see if you can read between the lines: "When you are the creator, you can say this is what the show is. I didn't create the show, I didn't create the comic book, so I was just glad I was able to contribute."
Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof was also on the panel and offered his thoughts as a former showrunner of a huge hit series. "I don't know what the climate's like at that show or at AMC, there's different culture at every network," he said. "But I do think that there's a bit of misconception in that if a show is doing very very well that there's a laissez-faire attitude about 'well, they must be doing something right so we're going to leave them alone.'"
Lindelof recalled the shift that occurred behind the scenes when Lost became a pop culture phenomenon. "Suddenly there was seven executives I'd never met before and it was more like 'Oh my God, don't f*** it up!'" he said. "We're on the creative side of it, but it's a business. And the most expensive thing you can do on a television show is produce three seasons of it and get cancelled."
Why do you think Mazzara was let go?