As Don well knows, hitting the big time can create its own set of problems. As AMC has dealt with the challenges that success brings, it has endured a roller-coaster ride of conflict and controversy, especially in recent months.
Here's the short version of AMC's recent history, a companion piece to our interview with network President Charlie Collier.
June 25, 2006: The miniseries 'Broken Trail' debuts and garners a very impressive 9.7 million viewers for the channel.
July 19, 2007: 'Mad Men' debuts, goes on to win dozens of awards and reside at or near the top of most critics' yearly Top 10 lists.
Jan. 20, 2008: 'Breaking Bad' debuts, and after an uneven strike-shortened first season, eventually joins 'Mad Men' as one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV.
Early 2009: In a ritual that would be repeated two years later, negotiations between 'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner and AMC become public and acrimonious, but he eventually signs on to do Seasons 3 and 4 of the show.
According to 'The Los Angeles Times,' renewal talks for Season 5 of the critically acclaimed drama have reached an impasse after AMC wanted to cut the number of epsiodes from 13 to six or eight.
Last week Sony studios reportedly started shopping the series around, sending feelers out to at least three other cable networks about taking 'Breaking Bad' should an agreement with AMC fall through.
Deadline.com reports sources as saying that Darabont, a feature film helmer and multi-Oscar nominee before moving to the small screen, was unaccustomed to the fast pace of TV production, and "never quite adjusted to the daily grind of producing a TV series."
Production recently got underway on Season 2, which is due to premiere on AMC in October. There's been no word yet on whether Darabont, who is also an exec producer on 'The Walking Dead,' will remain on the series in some capacity.
So, why has Darabont quit? Was it because he couldn't take the pace? Or was it because of rumored budget cuts?
In the 1-minute clip, our favorite zombie-killing police officer, Rick Grimes, takes on not one, but two zombies with a rock. Yes, just a rock.
You can watch the very sweaty battle after the jump.
Based on the popular comic book by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, the first season of 'The Walking Dead' was a huge hit for AMC. Starring Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies and Laurie Holden, the first season premiere was watched by more than 5 million viewers, a record for AMC. The Season 1 finale posted higher numbers, with 6 million viewers.
He's been letting it rip via a series of potty-mouthed posts on Twitter since the nominations were announced.
Despite predicting on Wednesday that 'Sons of Anarchy' wouldn't be nominated -- "Tomorrow morning I'll be the fat kid who didn't get picked to play" -- the lack of nods still seems to have annoyed Sutter.
He wrote, "Best part of not getting an emmy nod. now i don't have to pretend i give a s**t about the profiteering d*****bag academy ... because you know if we were nominated i'd be all humble and blowing smoke up their asses. now i can stay true to myself and just be a d**k."
AMC is getting even more serious about original programming, particularly in the wake of the success of 'Breaking Bad' and 'Mad Men.' First the network greenlit a full season for the television adaptation of 'The Walking Dead,' and now they've cast Billy Campbell in the lead of their new series pilot about an investigation into the murder of a young girl titled 'The Killing.'
'The Killing' actually sounds far more interesting than that brief description, as the police end up investigating three interlocking stories that led to the murder. If 'The Killing' ends up becoming a series, it could be about season-long, very complex series of crime investigations, like a really long episode of 'CSI.'
All of this is speculation as the series is currently only slated for a pilot. The possibility of a series is up in the air and if it comes down to either this show or 'The Walking Dead,' I would go with the latter.
Andrew Lincoln has been cast as the lead in the upcoming AMC series 'The Walking Dead' based on the comic book of the same name. The series will be executive-produced by Frank Darabont, who is also writing and directing the pilot.
I've never seen any of Lincoln's previous work but I have read the comic. Lincoln seems a good casting choice although truthfully the part is somewhat generic and there are probably many lead actors who might have done the role just as well. Upon reading the comic, one actor that came to mind for the main character of Rick Grimes was Scott Bakula, but he's probably a little too old for that character now.
Jon Bernthal has been cast as Rick's partner in the police force, but he's likely only going to be seen in flashback as he's never really seen over the course of the comic. In fact, he's likely zombie food by the middle of the first issue. This is assuming the television series follows the same general story as the comic, which is no guarantee. See 'True Blood' for an example of this.
AMC has announced that it has recruited Andrew Lincoln to fill the lead role in its new zombie drama series, adapted from the comic books by Robert Kirkman.
Lincoln -- a British actor perhaps best known Stateside for his role as the lovelorn Mark in 2003's 'Love Actually,' or on the UK television series 'Teachers' -- will play Rick Grimes, a small-town cop trying to lead a pack of human survivors to safety after zombies have taken over the world. Jon Bernthal ('The Pacific') has already been cast as Shane, Grimes' old police partner.
The comic itself is pretty awesome and lends itself to television well; it's pretty much about the relationships between the survivors in a world where they can be killed or turned into zombies at any minute. Actually in the comic everybody who dies automatically becomes a zombie so if the television show follows the comic death and zombification will be much the same thing.
You know the series will be quality as well since Frank 'Shawshank Redemption' Darabont is writing and directing the pilot. I'm convinced that the fourth 'Indiana Jones' film would have been much better if they used his version of the script.
The basic cable network behind 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad' and the upcoming conspiracy thriller 'Rubicon' has given a six-episode order to this new one-hour drama, based on Robert Kirkman's comic book series of the same name. 'The Walking Dead' follows a group of human survivors, headed by small-town Kentucky police officer Rick Grimes, as they attempt to find a safe haven amidst a post-apocalyptic landscape overrun by zombies.
AMC has ordered a pilot for The Walking Dead based on the popular Robert Kirkman comic book series with Frank Darabont still attached to write, direct and produce it.
I can't tell how psyched I am to hear it. Not only am I excited to learn that AMC is producing and bringing this awesome comic series to life, but I'm even more excited to learn that zombies are starting to take over the deluge of suck that are vampires. If both factions got into a war, zombies could totally kick the vampires' collective asses. It's just simple science.
But even though these two shows have shown just as deep TV has tried to dig its own heel-mark into the genre, it goes a lot deeper and frankly, I'm not sure you want to dig that deep. This is a show about life after an unfathomable nuclear accident that kills everyone in the world except for six people who are left to fend for themselves in an unrelenting wasteland of death, despair, destruction and death ... and it was a sitcom.
And before you ask, yes, it was on Fox.
As we reported, The Walking Dead is on its way to TV, with Frank Darabont writing and directing to get the series off to a good start.
But, two years earlier, a team of writer/producers planned Alive, a syndicated series featuring a small pocket of human survivors fighting to find a cure for a global viral pandemic that transformed humans into zombies.
It's about time! Let's give the blood suckers a break and revisit some good ol' brain eaters, shall we?
Also in the news today: Scott Foley books 'Law & Order: SVU,' while 'True Blood' continues to be a big ratings draw.
See more of today's top TV headlines after the jump.
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