UPDATE: Glen Mazzara will replace Frank Darabont as showrunner for The Walking Dead, AMC Senior VP Joel Stillerman confirmed at this morning's TCA Press Tour.
Robert Kirkman, who created the comic books on which TWD is based, will stay on as writer and executive producer; Darabont's partner Gale Ann Hurd will also continue as EP. Production on the show will not be affected the shocking turnover, says Stillerman, who refused to elaborate on the reason for Darabont's sudden departure or future involvement with the show. "We continue to discuss his ongoing role with the series," he said.
Mazzara, who hired on this season as Darabont's second-in-command, includes The Shield, Crash and, um, Hawthorne among his producing credits. Fans can take heart knowing he also wrote TWD's pivotal fifth episode "Wildfire," featuring the heartbreaking reanimation of Andrea's dead sister, Amy, and the introduction of Dr. Jenner (Noah Emmerich), lone scientist at the CDC.
Frank Darabont, creator and executive producer of of AMC's hit zombie series, The Walking Dead, is stepping down as showrunner, Deadline reports.
The bombshell dropped just days after Darabont joined the TWD panel at Comic-Con and afterward enthusiastically shared details with reporters about the show's filming and future. He gave no hint that he would not be part of that future, nor is it known exactly why he is stepping down.
Deadline suggests that Darabont, a respected filmmaker and three-time Oscar nominee writer and director of The Walking Dead's groundbreaking pilot, may have had trouble adjusting to the daily demands of the TV show.
Production on TWD's second, 13-episode season, now shooting in Atlanta, shouldn't be affected by Darabont's departure, and he may stay on the show in in some capacity.
Season two of The Walking Dead premieres Sunday, Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Originally published July 26, 2011, at 7:35 p.m.