As we previously reported some time ago, Frank Darabont is currently in the middle of suing AMC and the producers of The Walking Dead for $280 million owed in "contingent profits" from the show.
As the case rumbles on, a number of legal documents and e-mails filed by both parties have made their way online via THR - and it doesn't paint a pretty picture for either Darabont or AMC. By all accounts, it looks like Darabont - who, prior to working on The Walking Dead, wrote and directed films like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Stephen King's The Mist - was under huge pressure from AMC to deliver the show according to what he had pitched them.
According to Darabont, AMC requested that they see all scripts for the series first before it going into production, something that Vince Gilligan - whose Breaking Bad was an AMC show - described in an e-mail to Darabont as "unheard of." What's more, Darabont wasn't reticent about making his feelings known to AMC or producer Gale Anne Hurd. In one e-mail, Darabont complained of chest pains, "because of the staggering fucking incompetence, blindness to the important beats, and the beyond-arrogant lack of regard for what is written being exhibited on set every day."
"I deserve better than a heart attack because people are too stupid to read a script and understand the words. Does anybody disagree with me? Then join the C-cam operator and go find another job that doesn’t involve deliberately fucking up my show scene by scene." Darabont wasn't happy with how the episodes were being filmed, and didn't have kind words to say about the writers on the show either.
In one e-mail to AMC chief Ben Davis, Darabont talked about the writers room, describing them as "fucking lazy assholes," and claimed they "threw the responsibility" of being the showrunner on him after "wasting five months of my time." For his part, Darabont has stated that the e-mails have to be considered in context, i.e. he was under a huge amount of pressure and was being fought at every turn by AMC.
"Each of these emails was sent because a ‘professional’ showed up whose laziness, indifference, or incompetence threatened to sink the ship of production and added unfair and unnecessary burden to their colleagues in the cast and crew," said Darabont in a legal affidavit attached to the case. "My tone was the result of the stress and magnitude of this extraordinary crisis. The language and hyperbole of my emails were harsh, but so were the circumstances. As for the enormous problems they describe, I stand by these emails to the last detail."
AMC, however, don't see it that way. According to them, "Darabont’s erratic and unprofessional performance and his behavioral and interpersonal issues during Season 2 raised a number of concerns for AMC Studios," and that "his failure to timely deliver scripts, failure to adequately supervise the writers’ room, and his volatile and disturbing interactions with staff and talent were impacting production."
It's worth pointing out that Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride have all spoken up for Darabont in interviews, even as recently as last year, and many of the actors attribute the show's continuing success to his work in the first and second season. Speaking to EW in 2016, Lincoln described Darabont's firing as "the most painful year of my career," whilst Norman Reedus said that he had "always been a huge fan of his," and was grateful for him writing the part for him.
The crux of Darabont's case is that AMC essentially took part in self-dealing; by licencing the show to its affiliates, it made less money and therefore produced less profit for Darabont than it actually could have. As well as this, Darabont's profits were suppose to go from 11% to 15% if he completed work on the second season, which he says he did. AMC argue, however, that they fired him over his inability to complete work on time and that he isn't entitled to profits.
It's worth reading THR's full breakdown on the case, as there's a lot more to this and a lot more juicier details than we've covered here.