Glen Mazzara is finally breaking his silence on his surprise exit as showrunner on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” — sort of. During a panel discussion at the NATPE convention with fellow genre icon Damon Lindelof (“Lost”), Mazzara addressed both how he handled taking the reins from season one and two showrunner Frank Darabont and the challenges he faced in the role.
“I was sort of the hired gun coming in to support the creator of the show, and through odd circumstances I ended up becoming showrunner,” Mazzara said according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“You had to sort of grab the wheel as if we were going through a storm and I’m happy to say I was able to contribute and we got through the storm. But when I think people involved with the show are looking at the long-term plan, they want something different — and what those differences are, you would have to ask AMC.”
Although Mazzara didn’t name names — like, say, “Walking Dead” comic book creator Robert Kirkman, also an executive producer on the show — he did allude to butting heads with other creatives on the series.
“When you’re the creator, you can say, ‘This is what the show is,'” Mazzara said. “I didn’t create the show. I didn’t create the comic book, so I’m just glad I was able to contribute.”
Mazzara explained the overwhelming amount of people who want to have a say in the direction of “Dead” including AMC executives, 15 producers and members of the cast: “There’s no way you can take every note. There’s no way you can make everybody happy. So I’d just sort of go through and do a rewrite on the entire script trying to include all of those different voices, all of those different perspectives.”
Lindelof couldn’t resist adding his own two cents and perspective from dealing with ABC on “Lost.” “I do think that there is a bit of a misconception that if a show is doing very, very well, there is a laissez-faire attitude: ‘Well, they must be doing well, they must be doing something right. We’re going to leave them alone.’ In fact, on ‘Lost’ the opposite was true. After we did the pilot, I think everybody was saying: ‘Oh my God, how are you going to sustain this?’ … This wasn’t our idea. We sort of inherited it, and were doing our best to just sort of figure out what a story looks like.
“There was a period during the first six episodes or so when we were sort of left alone. Nobody really knew how to note the show. Then the show premiered, and it got very big ratings. Then there were suddenly seven executives I never met before saying like: ‘Oh my God, don’t f— it up. This feels a little too weird. Can you pull this back?’ The idea of looking at it in terms of ‘It’s doing well, so just go do your thing’ doesn’t exist. We’re on the creative side of it, but it’s a business.”