Two prominent executive producers reacted with rage and disbelief to the news that their colleague, Glen Mazzara, is leaving as showrunner on “The Walking Dead.”
You might blame Twitter — at least indirectly — for the outbursts emanating Friday from Kurt Sutter, outspoken executive producer of “Sons of Anarchy” on FX, and Shawn Ryan, showrunner on “The Shield,” “Last Resort” and others.
Without the ease and convenience of Twitter, how else might these two have aired their opinions on the Mazzara situation — writing letters to the editor? Well, for starters, they may have refrained from venting their spleens at all.
Instead, though, they both took to Twitter to express their outrage over what happened to Mazzara, who reportedly clashed with AMC management over unspecified “creative differences” and left the show, even as AMC renewed it for a fourth season.
“The Walking Dead” is the highest-rated scripted drama on basic cable, with ratings that are better than any number of hour dramas on the big broadcast networks too. That’s one reason why Ryan and Sutter reacted to Mazzara’s exit with such consternation.
Both men blasted AMC for the way that, in their view, the network treats its showrunners and other “creatives.” Of the two, Sutter was more verbose. “AMC is run by small-minded, bottom-line thinkers who have no appreciation or gratitude for the effort of its creative personnel,” Sutter griped (our source story comes from The Hollywood Reporter here).
“Time and time again we see events like what happened today with Glen Mazzara,” he continued. “They continue to disrespect writers, s— on their audience and bury their network. Mazzara took the work-in-progress that was ‘Walking Dead’ and turned it into a viable TV show with a future. Without him, that future is dim. Showrunners are not development executives, we’re not cookiecutter douchebags that you plug into a preexisting model. ["The Walking Dead"] will suffer. Even Zombies need consistency. ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ will be gone soon. So will AMC.” The final sentence is so laden with profanity that we’ll refrain from reprinting it here. Suffice it to say: It was unkind to the bosses at AMC and parent company Rainbow Media, blasting them by name.
The references to “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” — AMC’s other two landmark series — were about the past negotiations between producers Matt Weiner of “Mad Men” and Vince Gilligan of “Breaking Bad” and AMC that were so protracted that they threatened to sink both shows — and in the case of “Breaking Bad,” may have brought the show to its last season prematurely.
Apparently, both Sutter and Ryan know Mazzara well. All three worked on “The Shield” together. “Common knowledge that AMC cut Breaking Bad shorter than it should have been. Now you have creative differences w/ biggest hit’s savior?” Ryan asked in his own Tweet, apparently breaking a self-imposed Twitter moratorium. “With FX, Showtime, HBO, Starz, Cinemax, A&E, TNT and others to sell to, it’s a real question now why good show runners should sell to AMC?” Ryan concluded.
Meanwhile, Season Three of “The Walking Dead,” now on hiatus, returns Feb. 10 on AMC.