Frank Darabont has come forward to share his original plans for the Fall of Atlanta story (via AICN) and he clariffied that it was intended as the second season opener, and not as an eventual web series.
While "The Walking Dead" has continued to be one of the top rated series on AMC, the network's decision to remove Frank Darabont as the showrunner has continued to cast a long shadow over the show. And during the weaker parts of the second season, several critics openly wondered whether the glacial pace of the story was due to Darabont's departure and the long rumored budget cuts.
According to actor Sam Witwer, AMC also scrapped Darabont's planned "Walking Dead"
prequel web series second season flashback episode in which Witwer would have reprised his cameo role from the pilot.
During an interview about the upcoming second season of "Being Human," Witwer told a Horror Hound Magazine correspondent (via Paranormal Pop Culture) that "[Darabont] said to me, 'Look, I think it would be really cool to tell a prequel story about how Atlanta fell, do 'Black Hawk Down,' but with zombies, have a few main characters pass through, but the lead will be you. You're a soldier and all these horrible things happen, and the chain of command breaks down, and, eventually, you have to take out your superior officer. Then, eventually, in the end, you get bit.' He's pitching me this. 'You're crawling and you crawl into this tank and you have a grenade and you're going to blow yourself up, but you set the grenade next to you and you die. Then, we reprise the scene from the pilot, where Rick [Grimes] gets in the tank and there's a zombie there.'"
Witwer added "If you look closely, I played that zombie, because we were setting up this prequel we were going to do. If you watch the pilot of 'The Walking Dead,' that's me in the tank as the zombie, and then Rick blasts him and he gets deafened, and he gets that grenade which saves him at the end of the season."
"It's not happening now," continued Witwer. "Why? Because AMC wanted to save a few bucks. That is just one example of the kind of cool, awesome forethought, [Darabont] has put into this show, that is now absolutely written off. For me, it doesn't matter much because I'm busy doing 'Being Human.' We were going to schedule things around. I'm not lamenting the loss of a job, I'm lamenting the loss of an amazing idea. And there are dozens and dozens of amazing ideas just like that, which are now gone."
"And this is all because people wanted to save money," elaborated Witwer. "This is all because they felt it necessary to cut the budget by — when you add in the tax breaks they're pocketing — like 35%. Really? Budget cut? So, I'm not happy about it. And here's the thing, it's not as simple as don't support 'The Walking Dead' because there are a lot of good people on that set. People who are busting ass to entertain all of us… People who have been threatened to not speak out over what happened. It's ugly… it's really ugly what happened."
Witwer also spoke out about Darabont's dismissal from the series and left no doubt where he stands.
"I'm furious at them for this, because Frank is my friend, he's my buddy. Not only is he my buddy, but he's a guy I'm extremely loyal to, because he gave me a shot with 'The Mist,' when I didn't have a hell of a lot going on. Here's a guy who gets his cast and crew together and gives AMC a show, packages it all together, which is way cheaper than anywhere else because everyone is working way under their pay grade. Why? Because they want to and love working with Frank Darabont."
Paranormal Pop Culture posted the extended video of Witwer's comments; which is well worth watching.
New episodes of "The Walking Dead" resume on Sunday, February 12.