AMC launches digital outfit, says it's 'grateful' to Frank Darabont
AMC announced this morning that it is launching a new digital studio for original programming that could, in some cases, make its way on to the network. Separately, it confirmed stories on Show Tracker and elsewhere that Glen Mazzara would be taking on the show-runner position for "The Walking Dead" after the sudden departure of Frank Darabont this week. AMC said it expected no changes to the production schedule of the second season under the new leadership.
The digital studio is to develop original content with emerging talent, making the results available on amctv.com and Hulu. First up is "The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks," a series from independent filmmaker Peter Glanz that will clock in at a total of 40 minutes and star Adam Goldberg and Jeffrey Tambor.
"Pursuits" has the title character (Goldberg) staging a play that echoes his love life, with Tambor playing the therapist who helps Banks sort through his romantic issues. The series is set to premiere Aug. 22 on both digital platforms.
AMC also released a statement saying that Mazzara, who has served as Darabont's No. 2 since the end of last year, will now take on the show-runner position as well. It offered few clues about Darabont's departure, saying only that it is "grateful" to him and that "his contributions to the success of 'The Walking Dead' are innumerable. We continue to discuss his ongoing role with the series."
The network said Robert Kirkman, the author who created the graphic novel on which the zombie series is based, and veteran producer Gale Anne Hurd will remain as executive producers. It said there will be no change to the production and that the series will debut as scheduled, on Oct. 16.
Fans, however, will be watching closely for signs of a shift or even falloff as the season progresses and the first episodes not under Darabont's guiding hand are aired. The veteran filmmaker was the chief creative force behind the series, spending years developing it and serving as creator, executive producer, show runner and even director.
AMC is set to present at the Television Critics Assn. Thursday in Los Angeles.
[For the record, 12:30 p.m., July 28, 2011: This post originally misspelled Glen Mazzara's last name as Mazarra.]
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: A poster for "The Walking Dead." Credit: AMC