More than two months since original The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA sued AMC, over unpaid fees and other claims, the cable station has finally replied. In a dry point-by-point 10-page retort filed today in the …
TNT will not be going forward with a second installment of Frank Darabont’s period drama Mob City after a low-rated, six-episode run this fall as a limited series. “Mob City was created as a three-week television event and we are …
2ND UPDATE 7:40 PM: The most colorful reaction to today’s lawsuit once again came from Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, who previously blasted AMC over the dismissal of Glen Mazzara, Frank Darabont‘s successor on The Walking Dead. Sutter wrote on Twitter, “go frank. fuck those ghoulish, dead-eyed scumbags in their green-gobbed asses. i ain’t talking about the zombies.”
PREVIOUS 11:25 AM: AMC‘s The Walking Dead is the biggest show on television but its developer Frank Darabont has yet to receive any money as a profit participant. Today, Darabont and his agency CAA filed a lawsuit (read it here) against AMC, accusing the network in “self dealing” by setting an unrealistically low license fee for the zombie series it also produces and employing questionable accounting practices thus depriving profit participants of compensation. The complaint also alleges Darabont was wrongfully terminated from the show, that he should continue to receive an executive producer credit and is entitled to proceeds from The Walking Dead offshoots Talking Dead and the upcoming spinoff from Robert Kirkman, on whose graphic novel The Walking Dead was based. UPDATE: AMC declined comment on the litigation. Darabont and CAA are asking for unspecified “monetary damages” to be determined by a jury trial.
Judging by the history of vertical integration lawsuits, the odds are small that the dispute would go to trial. There have been a slew of “self dealing” complaints since the 1995 relaxation of TV’s financial interest-syndication rules — all of them eventually settled. The list includes Home Improvement producers’ suit against Disney, NYPD Blue exec producer Steven Bochco’s, X-Files star David Duchovny’s and M*A*S*H star Alan Alda’s complaints against 20th Century Fox TV, and more recently Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan’s case against NBC and Smallville creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough’s against Warner Bros TV. They all accused a studio of not negotiating a fair (or “arms’ length”) deal when selling a series to a corporate sibling, or “self-dealing,” which had hurt profit participants’ financial returns. The difference is that Darabont was also fired from the show early into its run, a move Darabont and CAA are using in their case against AMC. The lawsuit, filed today with the New York Supreme Court, comes after sources say efforts by Darabont and CAA to resolve their issues were “fundamentally rebuffed” by AMC. The 73-page complaint was accompanied by a summons from the plaintiffs for AMC to reply by mid-January or risk default judgment.
When TNT announced last fall it had ordered six episodes for Frank Darabont’s new pilot based on John Buntin’s book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most …
UPDATE: Mary Parent Boarding ‘Godzilla’, Which Is Getting A Frank Darabont Rewrite And Losing Roy Lee And Dan Lin
UPDATE, 1 PM:: I can understand why Godzilla is trying to shed producers, because there are plenty. Mary Parent is about done with a deal to come aboard on the producer roster. Parent, whose Disruption banner is based at Paramount, takes the job after working closely with Legendary on the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 8:42 AM: As it stomps its way toward a March production start, Godzilla has two significant developments in the offing. Frank Darabont, who veered into genre territory by launching the AMC series The Walking Dead, has been hired by producer-financier Legendary Pictures to do a final rewrite on the script that was written by The Seventh Son scribe Max Borenstein.
At the same time, Warner Bros-based producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee, who were among the producers who came into Legendary with a Toho rights deal for the iconic reptile, are in a huge battle with the financier-producer. Legendary, which now controls the rights, wants to drop the producers from the film. As it stands right now, the 3D picture will be produced by Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, along with Brian Rogers, the latter of whom was on the ground floor of the Toho deal. The film will be directed by Monsters helmer Gareth Edwards and has been dated for May 16, 2014 release.
Frank Darabont, Michael Shamberg, Pietro Scalia Set For Zurich Master Classes
The Zurich Film Festival today announced this year’s headliners for its Master Class series. Instructors will include writer-director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Walking Dead); producer Michael …
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
During AMC’s session for The Walking Dead, the producers of the hit zombie drama were asked about recent reports that ousted showrunner Frank Darabont had a different idea for the show’s second season premiere than the one that aired, but it was rejected. “The story was one we discussed internally; that was Frank’s pitch and it was one of many ideas examined in the writers’ room,” said executive producer Glen Mazarra, Darabont’s successor at the helm of the series. “It just felt like a stall and we wanted to get to our characters. We have a lot of ideas like that. … That was not something that was rejected by another party. That’s not accurate.” Darabont’s plan was allegedly a flashback to the early days of the zombie apocalypse. It told the story of a zombie soldier The Walking Dead lead Rick (Andrew Lincoln) came across in the series’ pilot, ending with their encounter before the show were to pick up with Rick and his crew in Episode 2.
L.A. Noir, the spec script Frank Darabont started shopping shortly after his ouster from AMC’s The Walking Dead, has landed at TNT with a pilot order. The project is based on John Buntin’s book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most Seductive City, which chronicles the epic battle between Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker and mobster Mickey Cohen. In addition to writing, Darabont is set to direct the pilot and will executive produce with Michael De Luca (The Social Network, Moneyball ) and Elliot Webb (Tall Time Tales). TNT Original Prods will produce.
Phoenix Co-President Bradley Fischer Forms Mythology With Scribes Laeta Kalogridis And James Vanderbilt
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Phoenix Pictures co-president Bradley J. Fischer has formed Mythology Entertainment in partnership with screenwriter/producers Laeta Kalogridis and James Vanderbilt. With backing from private investors, Mythology will develop and package projects internally before taking them to studios and financiers. …
After Getting Close On Several Big Jobs, Director Bryan Barber’s Taking His Next Meetings With ‘Gigantor’ In His Corner
As fewer movies get made these days, the hardest thing for a director or a writer is just getting hired. Bryan Barber, who went from helming videos for bands like Outkast to making his feature debut with the stars of that group on the 2006 Prohibition Era musical Idlewild, grew so tired of getting close and losing out on big directing jobs that he hunted and secured a film-centric property to improve his odds. After the lengthy courtship of an 86-year old voiceover artist who controlled the rights, Barber will go to his next studio meeting flanked by Gigantor, the giant flying robot star of the 60s Japanese cartoon import with a catchy theme song and a family-friendly premise. Barber controls the movie, merchandise and videogame rights, and will shop a $60 million live action film he calls Transformers meets Goonies. And guess who’ll be attached as director?
Considering that robots remain hot—Hasbro told shareholders this week that another Transformers is in the offing and a Real Steel sequel is also a possibility—Barber figures there should be interest in this story of a 12-year old boy who ends up with the controls to the giant weaponized world-saving robot. Barber hopes to take the same proactive route that allowed Tate Taylor to direct the summer sleeper hit The Help (he optioned the book before it had a publisher) and years ago got Frank Darabont his directing debut on The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont had written a superb script and controlled the book, and refused to step aside even when Rob Reiner and Tom Cruise were ready to re-team after A Few Good Men).
There was no Kurt Sutter reaction to AMC’s renewal of Breaking Bad yesterday. That’s because the refreshingly uncensored Sons of Anarchy creator had just pulled the plug on his Twitter feed, days after he blamed the protracted negotiations for the Vince Gilligan-created Breaking Bad and the firing of The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont on Matt Weiner’s megadeal for Mad Men. “No one else wants to f**king say it, but the greed of Mad Men is killing the other two best shows on TV — Breaking Bad and Walking Dead,” Sutter wrote last week. “Why Darabont got fired — Weiner. He held AMC hostage, broke their bank, budgets were slashed, shit rolled down hill onto Gilligan and Frank. Those, along with the recent anti-TV Academy zingers, are now just a distant memory. Here is Sutter blog post on his exit from Twitter:
For a network that has only 5 shows on the air, AMC has been in the headlines with series-related issues an awful lot during the past 8 months, first over the difficult and very public negotiations with Mad Men creator Matt Weiner and more recently over the abrupt exit of The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and the ongoing negotiations for Breaking Bad. I caught up tonight with AMC president Charlie Collier who declined to discuss the specifics surrounding the Breaking Bad talks with producer Sony Pictures TV and Darabont’s departure but addressed several other issues that have been the subject of a lot of speculation, including rumored budget cuts on Walking Dead which some have linked to Darabont’s exit and reported AMC demands for a 6-8-episode fifth season of Breaking Bad.
Deadline: Did you cut the budget on The Walking Dead in Season 2?
Collier: If you look at pilot budgets vs. pattern budgets usually the pilot budget is much higher than what ends up being the pattern budget. With The Walking Dead, instead of doing a pilot, we went straight to 6 episodes because we believed in the team and the talent in front and behind the camera. Then we came back with a 13-episode second season, and amortization over 13 episodes is very different than over 6. But we settled into one of the highest pattern budgets for a basic cable series.
Deadline: So the overall budget for Season 2 is lower than the Season 1 because of the amortization factor?
Collier: We went straight to series, with the first season serving in many ways as a pilot, and then we have settled into a 13-episode pattern budget.
Deadline: Did AMC want to truncate season 5 of Breaking Bad?
Collier: There has been a lot reported about this negotiation, but we would never comment on an open negotiation in the press. There have been all sorts of scenarios about how to bring Breaking Bad back on our air, we proposed many scenarios not just one format. The truth is that we have productive negotiations with Sony in hopes of doing right by both companies and the fans of this great show.
EXCLUSIVE: The Walking Dead executive producer Glen Mazzara is taking the reins of AMC’s The Walking Dead following the exit of creator/executive producer/showrunner Frank Darabont. Deadline broke the news last night that Darabont is stepping down as showrunner of …