AMC announced today it has greenlit The Walking Dead as a six-episode series based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics. Kirkman serves as an executive producer on the project and three-time Academy Award-nominee Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) serves as writer, director and executive producer. Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens, Armageddon, The Incredible Hulk), chairman of Valhalla Motion Pictures, serves as Executive Producer. David Alpert from Circle of Confusion serves as Executive Producer. Today’s announcement also includes the addition of Charles “Chic” Eglee (Dexter, The Shield, Dark Angel) as Executive Producer, and actor Jon Bernthal (The Pacific, The Ghost Writer) who will portray the character Shane.
The Walking Dead begins production in June in Atlanta with six, one-hour episodes for season one. The series is set to premiere in October 2010 during AMC’s Fearfest, the network’s annual blockbuster marathon of thriller and horror films. Fearfest (formerly known as MonsterFest) is celebrating its 14th year by airing 14 consecutive days of themed programming with more than 50 films. AMC announced development of The Walking Dead in August 2009 and announced the pilot in January of this year.
“AMC strives to make original shows that play like movies and The Walking Dead is a perfect complement to the network’s celebrated movie franchise, Fearfest, which has always been an important destination for our audience,” said Charlie Collier, AMC President. “With its depth of story and the remarkable talent attached, The Walking Dead gives us an opportunity to raise the bar significantly within this popular genre, and continue our commitment to being the home of premium programming on basic cable.”
“The Walking Dead is that rare piece of material that plays on many levels,” says Joel Stillerman, Senior Vice President of Programming, Production and Digital Content. “Kirkman’s series brilliantly captures the social commentary and ongoing human drama of the zombie apocalypse; and let’s us kick a little zombie you-know-what from time to time.”
The Walking Dead tells the story of the months and years that follow after a zombie apocalypse. It follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, who travel in search of a safe and secure home. The comic goes on to explore the challenges of life in a world overrun by zombies who take a toll on the survivors, and sometimes the interpersonal conflicts present a greater danger to their continuing survival than the zombies that roam the country. Over time, the characters are changed by the constant exposure to death and some grow willing to do anything to survive.
AMC’s Joel Stillerman, senior vice president of original programming, production and digital content, Susie Fitzgerald, senior vice president scripted development and current programming, and Vlad Wolynetz, vice president of production, series and movies, oversee the development and production of the new drama.
Today’s announcement marks the fourth original series greenlight for AMC. The first three were Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Rubicon. AMC is the only network, in television history, to win three consecutive Golden Globe awards for best dramatic series for Mad Men (2008, 2009, 2010). The first two seasons of Breaking Bad awarded the outstanding lead actor Emmy award to Bryan Cranston for his portrayal of lead character Walt White. Rubicon,a conspiracy thriller starring James Badge Dale (HBO’s The Pacific), premieres this summer.