"The Walking Dead" is the biggest hit in the history of AMC, and one of the biggest in the history of cable television — at the moment, it's the highest-rated entertainment show of this season in all of television — but success has not brought with it stability. Original showrunner Frank Darabont departed under murky circumstances midway through season 2, to be replaced by his lieutenant Glen Mazzara. And when the season 4 renewal came in, it was with the announcement that Mazzara would be departing the series over the ever-popular creative differences.
Though it's been rumored for months that Scott M. Gimple (who's been on the writing staff since season 2) would be promoted to replace Mazzara, AMC wouldn't confirm that until today, when the channel also announced more details about the fourth season.
Production will begin in Atlanta on May 6, with another 16 episodes being produced to premiere in October. In addition to Gimple's promotion, the show's Emmy-winning makeup supervisor (and sometime director) Greg Nicotero has been promoted one notch to executive producer, alongside returnees Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert.
We're never going to know exactly why Mazzara left (other than that he didn't agree with the direction that season 4 will go in), but unsurprisingly, the press release features all interested parties sounding pleased as punch with the new arrangement.
"Scott has been an essential part of this show since he came aboard at the very beginning of season two. He's contributed to guiding this show in a substantial way that has resulted in a lot of the key scenes and storylines fans have dubbed signature moments of 'The Walking Dead,'" Kirkman (who created "The Walking Dead" comic) said. "I am thrilled to begin work on a brand new season of ‘The Walking Dead’ with Scott at the helm, and I truly believe we could be embarking on what will be the best season of this show yet."
Gimple, meanwhile, said, "I'm thrilled to continue the tradition of the spectacular, cinematic, horrifying, exciting and emotional storytelling of 'The Walking Dead.' I'm a huge fan of the comics, and started with the show on the other side of the set, as an avid viewer. Over the past two years, it's been an incredible privilege making such great television with the best cast and crew I've ever worked with – I can't wait to make some more."
I wish Gimple more luck than his predecessors, or else the history of "The Walking Dead" will read like those Biblical passages about how so-and-so begat so-and-so, who in turn begat...