'Walking Dead' showrunner promises shocker
From left to right, actors Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Melissa McBride, and executive producer and showrunner Glen Mazzara participate in a panel for "The Walking Dead" during the AMC portion of the the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, March 21, 2013 10:51AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 21, 2013 3:56PM EDT
TORONTO -- "The Walking Dead" has been zombie-shuffling towards an epic showdown for weeks.
And when it finally comes, it'll feature a major shocker for fans, promises departing showrunner Glen Mazzara.
The TV scribe says he approached the current season "as a historical novel" building towards "the first major battle between surviving groups in the aftermath of this zombie apocalypse."
"Everyone's in play now, everyone's on stage, everybody has a stake in it and I think it'll be a very interesting, surprising ending for the fans," Mazzara says in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles.
"I know it won't be what people will expect but I think hopefully it'll be emotionally satisfying."
The Season 3 finale to "The Walking Dead" is just two episodes away and is expected to feature a long-awaited face-off between former cop-turned-survivalist Rick Grimes and his gang's villainous rival, the Governor.
The ending also caps Mazzara's brief run as showrunner for the popular AMC drama, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman.
Mazzara took the reins in Season 2 after previous showrunner Frank Darabont left the show amid strained relations with AMC.
A clash with the network seemed to similarly fuel Mazzara's exit, with the seasoned scriptwriter admitting to "creative differences."
"And it was an accumulation of differences -- it wasn't one specific storyline or character's fate or anything like that," Mazzara says of his departure.
"I think we're all proud of the tremendous success of 'The Walking Dead' but after awhile we were at a bit of a stalemate. We thought it was best to split amicably. And I've done this before on shows where I realize if I'm not the creator of the show -- and it's AMC's show -- then it's only fair that we split and they have the opportunity to make the show that they want to make."
Although he's open to collaboration, Mazzara notes he's fiercely protective of his vision when helming a TV project.
"When you hire me or buy a project from me you know that I'm going to have a strong point of view," says Mazzara, whose past projects include "The Shield," "Crash" and "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour."
"When I look at groundbreaking TV shows of the past 10 years -- like 'The Sopranos,' 'The Wire,' 'The Shield,' 'Lost,' 'Battlestar Galactica,' today 'Justified,' 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'Walking Dead' -- all of those shows have benefited from having a strong point of view and a strong showrunner. None of those shows have been written by committee and I think that's important.
"I think you need to have the definitive point of view, you need an artist behind the vision saying: This is the story that I want to tell. I think once you start having people in the boardroom trying to tailor something for different age groups and different target groups you're probably just going to end up with something that's not as special."
Mazzara, slated to head north of the border for the Toronto Screenwriting Conference on April 6 and 7, has since signed a development deal with Fox Television Studios to create his own projects for premium cable television.
He says he's looking forward to developing his own original work.
"(In) my last few shows, I've come in to previously established material and I'm really interested in breaking out on my own and finally telling the stories that I want to tell."
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays on AMC.