Continuing its perfect pilot-to-series track record, AMC has ordered at least six episodes of "The Walking Dead."
Actually, "The Walking Dead" is one step better than AMC's normal routine, because the cable network has sent the zombie franchise to series without even shooting a pilot.
Based on the Image Comics series by Robert Kirkman
, "The Walking Dead" pilot was written by Frank Darabont
, who will also direct and executive produce. Joining Darabont and Kirkman on the executive producing team are Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert and the newly added Charles "Chic" Eglee ("Dexter").
"The Walking Dead" will begin production in June in Atlanta. The six-episode first season will premiere in October 2010 as part of AMC's annual Fearfest Halloween celebration. Note that while the six-episode order is shorter than a typical cable or AMC season, the network isn't treating "The Walking Dead" as a miniseries.
"AMC strives to make original shows that play like movies and 'The Walking Dead' is a perfect complement to the network’s celebrated movie franchise, Fearfest, which has always been an important destination for our audience," says Charlie Collier, AMC President, in a statement. "With its depth of story and the remarkable talent attached, 'The Walking Dead' gives us an opportunity to raise the bar significantly within this popular genre, and continue our commitment to being the home of premium programming on basic cable."
Kirkman's comic premiered in 2003 and has become one of the medium's landmark titles with its harsh and unflinching depiction of a world overrun by zombies and the increased desperation of the few surviving humans. The series' main character is Rick Grimes, a former police officer. There are dozens of other human characters, but it's best not to get too attached to most of them. In "The Walking Dead," anybody can die at any time.
So far, casting on "The Walking Dead" is in its early phases with only Jon Bernthal ("The Pacific," "The Class") attached, playing Grimes' friend Shane.
"'The Walking Dead' is that rare piece of material that plays on many levels," says Joel Stillerman, Senior Vice President of Programming, Production and Digital Content. "Kirkman's series brilliantly captures the social commentary and ongoing human drama of the zombie apocalypse; and let's us kick a little zombie you-know-what from time to time."
To date, AMC has ordered four drama pilots. "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" are the network's Emmy-winning foundation. The political thriller "Rubicon" will premiere this summer.