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The $200 Million Zombies: Inside One of Hollywood’s Craziest Suits

Frank Darabont arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of AMC's 'The Walking Dead' at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome
Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage via Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
July 18, 2021

One of the strange things about legal reporting is that you’re often the first person to inform people that they’ve been sued. Some will lash out over the phone, as if I were the one asking a court to award me millions of dollars. A prominent producer once broke down to me in tears. Most are just surprised, however, or at least surprised that I know about the litigation before they do. Such was the case right before the Christmas holiday in 2013, when I called the AMC Networks chief communications executive with a simple greeting: “Frank Darabont is suing you today.”

At the time, I didn’t need to say much more. Darabont, the famously obstreperous three-time Oscar nominee (including for one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption), had sparred with AMC behind the scenes almost from the time he agreed to tackle a TV adaptation of the zombie apocalypse comic, The Walking Dead. AMC fired Darabont during the second season, with executive Joel Stillerman later testifying that Darabont was “quite bad at his job” and his “volatile and disturbing interactions with staff and talent were impacting production.”