First, the good news: The Walking Dead is coming back for a fourth cycle next year, obviously, since it has been maintaining record high ratings all season long. And now, the hauntingly disconcerting news: Showrunner Glen Mazzara will not be involved in the making of season four and beyond. When the second half of season three wraps he’s stepping down as showrunner due to creative differences. Typically Dead is renewed for a new season shortly after its record-breaking ratings are posted following a season premiere, but this year the news came later and the decision to let Mazzara go was most likely the major holdup here. A series of released statements from Mazzara, the cable network that airs the show AMC, Dead creator Robert Kirkman, and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd make it sound as if the parting of ways was amicable, but industry sources say Mazzara was not enjoying his time at the helm of the show as of late. The statements can be read in full after the break.
I say this is disconcerting news because it has happened before. Series developer Frank Darabont exited the show on less “amicable” terms early in season 2, also due to creative differences with the network. The Walking Dead started off strong in its abbreviated debut season, the action slowed down when the farm was introduced in season two, and when Darabont handed the reins to Mazzara things kicked into high gear and never looked back. The current season is arguably the best one yet, and fans have Mazzara’s touch to thank for that. How will the show forge on without him come season four? It managed to reach new heights when Darabont left so it’s still fair to believe that the show will continue to see success with a new showrunner at the helm (the search is on); Kirkman and Hurd–executive producers who have their hands firmly planted in the show’s creative department aren’t going anywhere. But still (and I’m going to use this word one more time) it’s extremely disconcerting, for the team behind the show and viewers alike, to see The Walking Dead be handed off from one showrunner to the next. A show with this magnitude of ratings (and recently creative) success doesn’t deserve to be shaken up so much on such a regular basis. In the end this may really hurt the show in terms of its overall direction and sense of cohesion.
Mazzara’s vision of The Walking Dead continues when it returns with new episodes Sunday, February 10. (Click here for more…)
When Fringe returns this fall for its fifth and final season, it will be down one showrunner. It has been made official that executive producer and co-showrunner Jeff Pinkner will not be involved in the making of Fringe‘s 13 episode swan song. Co-creator J.J. Abrams handpicked Pinkner to run the show in season 1 and J.H. Wyman was made co-showrunner the following season. With Pinkner out, Wyman will serve as the sole showrunner next season. Fans should note that Pinkner’s exit was amicable and he did it so that he could start pursuing new projects.
Abrams released this statement concurrent with the announcement: ”We’re so excited to begin work on a fifth season of Fringe and to be able to deliver the 13 final episodes to our passionate and devoted fans. For four years, J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner have worked tirelessly as a team to keep all the worlds in order on Fringe. We’re thankful for the invaluable contributions Jeff has made to the show and of course wish him well and look forward to working together in the future. J.H. Wyman’s importance to Fringe cannot be overstated, however, and I’m thrilled that he will continue as showrunner for the concluding chapters of our story. We can’t wait for our fans to see what we have in store for them in the wild conclusion of Fringe.”
Fringe returns Friday, September 28 on FOX.