Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 10:45AM: AMC just issued a statement confirming “that there will be changes to the writing staff” of The Walking Dead.

EXCLUSIVE TUESDAY 5PM: I hear The Walking Dead writer/ executive producer/ director Frank Darabont has let go of the writers on the hot freshman AMC series, which has already renewed for a second season. That includes Darabont’s No. 2, writing executive producer Charles “Chic” Eglee. Writer turnover on series between seasons is commonplace but wholesale overhauls are unusual. What’s more, I hear Darabont is looking to forgo having a writing staff for the second season of Walking Dead altogether and assign scripts to freelancers.

Darabont, who hails from the feature world with The Young Indiana Jones as the only series credit before Walking Dead, ended up writing 2 of the first season’s 6 episodes of Walking Dead – the pilot and the second episode – and co-writing/rewriting the other 4. Two of those 4 were written by non-staff writers, one by executive producer Robert Kirkman, on whose comics the series is based, and one by Glen Mazzara. The freelance model is employed by the Starz/BBC series Tourchwood, which in turn borrowed it from the U.K. where the show originated. Having BBC as producer has allowed Torchwood to proceed with no writing staff but I hear such a plan on an U.S.-based network series such as Walking Dead may face issues with the Writers Guild. And, while the first season of Walking Dead was only 6 episodes, its second-season order is for 13, which may prove harder to manage in pre-production, production and post-production with no writing staff. Sources tell me that no final decision has been made yet with all options open, including using some combination of a writing staff/freelances. There is time – AMC is mulling launching Walking Dead‘s second season the way it did the first one – in October during Fearfest. (DUE TO WEBSITE GLITCH, PLEASE RESEND COMMENTS.)

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