Kurt Sutter, creator of Sons of Anarchy, has some interesting theories about AMC and the financial firestorm that has put their three best shows not only at odds but in jeopardy. (Read from the bottom up).
While I wouldn’t put it as harshly, Mad Men’s budget demands do seem to have repercussions on the negotiations and issues at Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. I wouldn’t blame Weiner, because Mad Men is that good and deserves the right budget for its creative freedom, but it’s a shame that it comes at the expense of the others.
The question then is, does AMC have enough money to sustain the level of quality it’s set for itself?
Okay, I’m seeing what I think are huge levels of misinterpretation, from Sutter, from the press, from fans…
Here are my TWO CENTS (aka my PERSONAL opinion):
I used to work at a studio that has a show with AMC and while at the time I was merely an assistant, I like to think I knew what was going on (I mean, the most important part of the assistant job is listening to EVERYTHING - you are required to know what is going on). The Walking Dead was NOT our show but from what I could gather through my assistantly-powers, the writing staff of The Walking Dead was comprised of great writers. Truly. Now, all those episodes where the writing seemed shitty? That wasn’t because of the individual writers. I mean, after spending time in a writers room, there is just NO WAY THAT IS POSSIBLE.
I’m not necessarily pointing fingers and I certainly wasn’t in the actual room on THAT show or have any firsthand knowledge, but from what I’ve heard (and again, from what I now understand based on working on a show), Darabont’s influence on the show was ultimately not positive. The press painted it as though it were the writers that were the problem - I mean, why else would an entire writing staff be fired? (Um, I don’t know, because the person in charge didn’t like them?) What people seem to selectively forget sometimes is that at the heart of every TV show is the voice and visionary behind it - the Showrunner. And the Showrunner has a hand in every aspect of a show’s production - no matter who is writing what script or directing what episode. Sometimes that vision works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes even if the vision works, the execution might not, and ultimately it’s the dude who’s show it is who is responsible for that.
Now, was Darabont fired because of AMC’s money issues and the massive budget of Mad Men? I doubt it. I am sure that could have contributed to the decision-making process on some level but when I was at the studio I never really heard a lot about budget stuff from AMC or their other shows (then again, when you’re on the development/creative end, you’re not talking about financial stuff all that often, or other studio’s shows for that matter) - but I certainly didn’t get the sense that AMC’s budget limitations were the problem. It’s not like execs would be like “well Mad Men does this so we can’t.” Shows are budgeted separately and far in advance of production. Matt Weiner might be bleeding AMC but I don’t think you can blame THAT fact on Darabont’s firing from The Walking Dead.
But anyway, I for one look forward to a Darabont-less season 2 of The Walking Dead. He had a great vision, and the show is an obvious testament to that. But clearly it was his execution that was the problem - so here’s hoping some fresh writing talent and a fresh visionary to steer the ship will set the show off in an exciting - and well-written - new direction.