At the recent Produced by Conference, a ton of Hollywood heavy hitters got up and blabbed in panel-format chats. One by Walking Dead producers Gall Ann Hurd and David Alpert recount the familiar but becoming legend story of the show that everyone didn’t want to do: notoriously dumped by NBC, it was reluctantly picked up at AMC even though vampires were hot and zombies were cold:
“We sold it to NBC in 2005, who liked the book but wanted to do something totally different,” said Alpert, who first met creator Robert Kirkman at Chicago Comic-Con in 2000, where the comic scribe was promoting his first title, Battle Pope. “I learned the first time that anytime a broadcast network says, ‘We’re going to do something totally different,’ it’s not going to work.”
NBC famously passed on picking up the project, with Aplert recalling being told that the network didn’t want to do a zombie show. “That was one of the more frustrating things,” Alpert said of the process.
At that point, Alpert and Kirkman began looking for other homes for the property, with Hurd suggesting Darabont take the property (which had already gotten a pass at countless cable networks) to AMC — which at the time was having tremendous success with its annual Fear Fest Halloween two-week programming block in addition to critical hits including Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
According to the story, even Image Comics was reluctant to do a zombie book at one point until Kirkman joked that he was adding aliens.
Just a reminder that even if something is perceived as “stone cold,” when it’s one of the great archetypes, it’s still going to come around again.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.