'The Walking Dead': This week's EW cover story goes behind the scenes on TV's best new show

EW-COVER-1131How in the world did a show that begins with a policeman shooting a little (albeit zombified) girl in the head ever make it on to television? And how did it become the hottest new series of the year? The new issue of Entertainment Weekly examines the past, present, and future of AMC’s zombie survival epic, The Walking Dead — from the comic book’s humble beginnings, to unlikely path to the small screen, to even more unlikely path as a bona fide hit. We talk to all the key players, including comic creator Robert Kirkman, executive producers Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd, and star Andrew Lincoln, who was as shocked as anybody by the subject matter when he was first approached for the project. “I got an e-mail outlining the project,” says Lincoln. “The first thing I read was ‘AMC.’ I went, ‘Great! I’ve been waiting for an AMC opportunity!’ Then it said ‘The Walking Dead.’ Terrific title. Then the names. ‘Frank Darabont.’ ‘Gale Anne Hurd.’ Great. And then it said ‘Zombie survival horror.’ I think I actually did a literal double take. I was like, ‘Really?!’

For more on The Walking Dead, check out the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on sale Nov. 29.

Comments (186 total) Add your comment
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  • Breckster82

    it’s no lie – this is by far the best new show on TV

    • K-Dogg

      “Welcome to Atlanta where the players play and zombies eat your brains like everyday…”

      • Mac

        You would think that in Atlanta there would be more black zombies! The city’s African American population is larger than the white population… Anyways, that’s just a minor compaint! It’s such a great show. NBC was stupid not to pick it up. I really want to see what happens with the father and son that were left in the small town! 2 more episodes left.

      • ltchy

        All l can say is l’M not sad that a Network didn’t pick this up. lt would not be near the same show that it is, being able to stick so close to its comic book roots without being censored for the wrong audience to within a half inch of its life… Thank you, AMC!

      • Kanye

        The black people didn’t get it because George Bush hates black people.

      • Alexyz

        I was a zombie on The Walking Dead…one of the best experiences of my life. I also happen to be black. There were many of us on set. I wish we were all featured more but we were all featured. I was featured many times. After 2 hours of “zombie” make up you really can’t tell what race some of us were but we were there!

    • the minister

      It’s a good show, no doubt about it, but I’m guessing most of the “best new show” cheerleaders haven’t seen Terriers.

      That or “new” means “mid-season new.”

      • Nicole

        Agree 100%. I love TWD, but Terriers is BY FAR the best new show.

      • BHM1304

        Amen to that comment. Hoping that the genius President of F/X, and I think it is still the best programmer in television history John Landgraf, lets the show stick around another year. You aren’t going to find a better cast of principal actors on any show. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond James and Laura Allen all deserve to be nominated when Emmy rolls around.

      • michelle

        So glad someone is watching Terriers! It’s brilliant and I worry it will get axed. The promo campaign for it was awful. Made it look like a quirky comedy.

      • cletus van damme

        Terriers is withouit a doubt a good show. A very good show that deserves a second season, but it is nowhere near Walking Dead and Boardwalk Empire.

      • Matt

        Terriers FTW, It has received almost no notice from EW.

      • Rush

        Ken Tucker did review Terriers and gave it a so-so review.

      • Bill Weeden

        Agree that–as great as TWD is–”Terriers” is still the best show on television.

  • Steve

    tis true breckster. I have so many shows i watch on sundays, but now i find myself always wanting to watch the walking dead first and formost

    • RCB

      There’s nothing like watching The Walking Dead and The Iron Chef back-to-back. Lol… Your secret ingredient is… Liver!!!

  • Mr. Holloway

    “Admit it…we only came back to Atlanta for the hat.”

    • Karl

      Glenn is, as usual, sharp as a tack.

  • shawn

    Word. But perhaps a *spoiler alert* could’ve been used… It looks like a zombified Amy on the cover. If someone didn’t watch Sunday’s ep yet, that’ll be a shocker.

    • Lola

      I thought that looked like her too. But they talk about what happened to her in the article. But not what could happen…leaves us to imagine. I love this show!

    • JLC

      I hope your mailman is kind enough to slap a spoiler alert on your mailbox.

      • MCS

        Awesome

    • dang

      Ironically, I didn’t pay close enough attention to the cover to notice, but was spoiled by this comment.

      • Mike

        I was gonna say the same thing. lol Really didn’t look like Amy to me anyway but that comment was sure spoilery!

      • Bazinga!

        @dang, but you can’t tell me you weren’t thinking it when Andrea was crying over her after she was attacked by the zombie! I don’t know how long it takes to change into a zombie, but I was concerned…

        LOVE THIS SHOW!

    • sara

      I think it’s common knowledge by now that once a human gets bit by a zombie, they die and come back as a zombie. So I’m not surprised she will be a zombie. I was waiting for her to wake up and eat her sister!

      • Charlotte

        Amy doesn’t become a zombie.

      • dipshat

        I got this yesterday!

    • Woo

      Well, clearly it isn’t Amy, unless zombies know how to change clothes.

    • Jojo

      That’s not Amy. Doesn’t look at her at all. Hair color, style and face shape is wrong. Oh, and the fact it’s an entirely different person. Fresh zombies don’t come with that level of decay.

      • maryann wolak

        YOUR RIGHT JOJO THE GIRL ON THE COVER LOWER LEFT IS AN ACTRESS FROM ATL SHE ONE OF OUR FAVORITE ZOMBIES SCAR THE HELL OUT OF US IN THE CAMP GROUND CLIP NAMED HER RED

    • russell

      That is definitely NOT Amy on the cover. The resemblance is only passing. Plus, Amy wears a tshirt with stars on it. I doubt that once she became a zombie, she got up and put on an ugly sweater.

      • wino

        LOL, thanks russ for making my day

    • dusen

      Don’t think it’s her – she was wearing a different shirt in the ep. But good job spoiling!

      • Livia

        Oh yeah, falubous stuff there you!

    • Christina

      That’s not her…what did she do change her clothes when she became a zombie haha

      • Pat

        *SPOILER*

        In the comic she does not turn, if they go they same route Andre will shoot her in the head before she gets a chance to turn

    • yummycupcake

      amy wasn’t wearing a red sweater when she died. so it’s not her. unless zombies like to change outfits when they come back to “life”

      • maryann wolak

        The zombie on the cover is an actress from alt she has red hair one of our favorites she killed the guy in the tent

    • Totoro

      No I don’t think that’s a “Zombified Amy” on the cover. I read that her sister who is still standing watch over her has a pistol and is prepared to do the right thing. Everyone in the camp knows what needs to be done so I don’t think we’ll see Amy re-animated… although that would be disturbing to see…so of course we want to see that! LOL!

    • maryann wolak

      not amy it was the red head zombie who killed the guy in the tent

    • Jonathon

      That’s one of the zombies that attacked camp.

    • Rush

      Posted on the 24th, after the episode she got bit in aired. Not much of a spoiler since if you get bit you get infected.

    • Augustina

      Wham bam thank you, ma’am, my qeustions are answered!

  • jen

    really is a great show, although I have to admit I can’t watch it live. Mostly because I would normally go to bed around 11 & it makes it difficult to go to sleep, usually watch the next day.

    • chad

      Agreed. My imagination makes it impossible, I see a zombie pop up behind someone on TV and bite out thier throat….I spend the next 12 hours looking over my shoulder…and sleep, HA! Forget about that.

      • KB

        The “Vatos” ep was filmed on the property where I live, it’s already unsettling for me that it’s set in Atlanta, even more so to see my back yard! It’s made dog walking after dark an adventure!

    • Robert Singleton

      I watch it on Sunday night. Takes me make to the first time I saw the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” Sat bolt-upright and screamed: “No!” I kinda like not being able to sleep afterwards.

  • yummycupcake

    It really is the best show on TV, new or old. Who misses Lost? Not me.

    • Mike

      I still miss LOST but The Walking Dead is definitely helping to fill that void! It’s fantastic and has a lot of similar themes that made LOST so great (survival story with strange and unpredictable surroundings and great characters) Love it and can’t wait for the final 2 eps of the season!

    • Rush

      This show would have never been greenlit if LOST hadn’t paved the way to prove that shocking Sci-fi and long arc drama series can be successful. Of course, being on AMC does help.

  • Joey

    Dont get me wrong, I love the Walking Dead, but how does this show get the front cover and Mad Men has not yet once graced the cover of EW. Come on……

    • JLC

      Not true. A couple years back, when Mad Men was beginning to break out, Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks were on the cover in a very “Leave It to Beaver” 50s style set. It’s what first alerted me to the show.

      • Joey

        On the cover though JLC?

      • Joey

        Oh you are right….hmmm I think someone stole that magazine in the mail then!!!! Oh the horror!

      • JLC

        It was the summer TV preview issue before the second season. Do a search of EW covers and you’ll find it on AMC’s website. For some reason, they won’t let me post the link.

      • Joey

        I found it actually after you posted the comment. Thanks!

  • Judo Thong

    Awesome.

  • Sarah

    Just glad it’s not another Glee or Twilight cover.

    • OzzyHater

      Amen

      • UGH

        Amen II

    • Karl

      Amen III

      • Irais

        The forum is a bgrhtier place thanks to your posts. Thanks!

  • darthwilson

    WD and Fringe are the best two shows on TV right now IMO!

    • UGH

      It’s too bad Fox has decided to give Fringe the Friday night death-sentence.

    • davey

      My two favorites as well :)

    • Mike

      I will second that!

      • RCB

        Third that!

      • Kiley

        Fourth that!

    • tracy bluth

      YES.

    • Bazinga!

      I would also ad Sons of Anarchy and Dexter to that list.

      • gb

        I agree….Walking dead..fringe..dexter..and sons of anarchy are the best show on tv

    • Peter

      I’ll just assume you’re excluding Breaking Bad because it’s currently between seasons. But it is easily the best show running. I gave up on predictable WD after the first two. Fringe, I’m still with. Neither show comes close to the horror that BB portrays.

      • michelle

        I hate when people say something was predictable as if they are soooo very clever. If you’d stayed with it you would see there is nothing predictable about the predicaments or the characters reactions to them. The twist in Sunday’s episode was epic!

      • Peter

        Whether or not I’m clever has nothing to do with the show’s predictability. I was happy at the end of the second episode that they hadn’t resorted to the self-amputation they’d broadcasted for half the episode. Then I learn they just delayed it a week.

  • Kebert Xela

    It is the one show I really look forward to each week.

    The only problem is we get 6 episodes, then wait a year for any new ones.

    Didn’t they learn from Lost not to jerk the viewers around like that?

    • K-Dogg

      Kebert – They had no way of knowing that it would be as big a hit as it’s been! The show could have just as easily been a flop. Fortunately for all of us, the cast of actors has been amazing at telling this story. I could see this show running at least another 3 seasons (hopefully)! As a resident of Atlanta, I hope this does for our city what LOST did for Hawaii! I can imagine people coming to town for a zombie tour! :)

    • Mike

      Yeah because THAT is what they were trying to do. (sarcasm) They only had a 6 episode order. Not sure how much you know about the history of the very few AMC shows, but Breaking Bad only had a 7 episode 1st season. They were pretty much testing the waters. And The Walking Dead has turned out to be their biggest hit so it got renewed for a full 12 episode order. (or 13 I forget) Anyway, short seasons sometimes pay off. They were able to write a pretty encapsulated story arc with a 6 episode season. Think about a show running for 22 episodes a season…you get a lot of filler. We have watched 4 episodes of Walking Dead and it feels like every minute has been precious AND it feels like we have been following them for so much more time than it has actually been. No complaints here. Now they have to get their ducks in a row to create a story arc for season 2…and they probably have big questions ahead of them..like if Frank Darabount will continue to be as involved as he was for this 6 episode run. There’s a lot more going on than anyone trying to screw you over. Even with LOST…that was no one’s fault but the changing landscape of how people digest television and losing their tolerance for reruns. ABC’s negotiations with the LOST producers was a landmark achievevment in broadcast television history and was win/win for all. They experimented with season 3…it didn’t work, so they negotiated 3 more non-stop short seasons and it worked fantastically. Hope my ramblings cleared some stuff up for you!

      • Mike

        And one more thing…this whole AMC scheduling thing is STILL something they need to work out. They’re going to pace out Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walkind Dead which definitely will cause some anxious viewers. But that is not a bad thing either. When they eventually DO air…it becomes EVENT television. Remember the Sopranos? We sometimes went almost 2 years without a new season but when it came back…it certainly was an event!

      • RCB

        Hope you’re not referring to NBC’s The Event though. Lol…

      • David

        To be fair, Breaking Bad Season 1 only had 7 episodes due to the Writer’s Strike.

      • Mike

        Good point David. I caught up on Breaking Bad this summer so I didn’t realize it was during the strike.

        And no, not talking to the EVENT on NBC at all…but I may have intended for it to be ironic :-) lol

      • Kebert Xela

        Not sure where I said they were trying to do that, but thanks for the response minus the sarcasm.

        I believe I just said that viewers don’t like being jerked around.

        It’s a good show. I’d like to see it last. I fear it won’t if people have to wait 1 year to see new episodes.

        Not sure when we crossed the threshhold that nothing negative can be said about Lost, but apparently we are there.

        WD, like Lost, requires you to be invested in the characters. If you only see these characters for a handful of episodes then wait a year to see them again, it doesn’t bode well for a new series.

        Lost got away with it because they had already hooked people the first 2 seasons. Had they pulled the 16 episode season from the start, I’m pretty certain they wouldn’t have made it to season 6.

      • Mike

        Kerbert – Sorry for the sarcasm but come on! My point was there are a lot of moving parts to get a show on the air and the show just got renewed. It’s going to take time to get a season 2 up and running anyway. I don’t think anyone is trying to jerk anyone around. (screw the fans over…potato potAHto lol)

        As far as LOST goes, I just happened to be an obsessed fan, so I’m sure other people can speak negatively about it. But I’ll defend the show forever! (http://www.lostaddictsblog.com) But the producers and ABC were very concerned about LOST fans being frustrated by reruns and long hiatuses. Season 3 was an experiment with a 6 episode run in the fall (which wasn’t received very well) followed by 16 non-stop run in the spring.

        They were stuck between a rock and hard place. No one wanted reruns…they didn’t want to create more filler episodes because they only had so much story to tell. They always wanted to do about 100 episodes of LOST…a 5 normal sized season show. So they had come up with 2 plans. Either 2 24 episode seasons (equaling 48 episodes) or 3 16 episode seasons….which ABC and the writers saw as a great compromise. Season 3 was when they reached the middle ground and needed to know how much longer the show was going to last before they created the story arc to bring the show to a close. I think that most fans were on board with the 3 season plan and understand that the show wouldn’t be on in the fall. There was no jerking around going on. As I mentioned before…long hiatuses can build up a lot of anticipation too which leads to EVENT television. (again..not the NBC show lol) ABC got 3 seasons, 3 DVD/blu-ray sets to sell. The writers got to end the show on their own terms. Win/Win. If they went with the 2 season idea…they would have run the show from September to May with many reruns in between. And fans hated that. You can’t have it both ways!

        And please…many people have lots of negative things to say about LOST. I just don’t agree with them.

        And for the record, LOST started losing viewers in the 2nd season because of all of the reruns and complex mythology. It was just business as usual for Network TV but fans were frustrated by the breaks on a show that requires your attention and dedication. 9 month TV season….22-23 weeks of storytelling…that’s just the way it goes. 16 episode seasons meant less filler and more quickly paced stories (do you remember the beginning of season 2 where we spent 5 episodes showing the Unveiling of the Hatch from different people’s perspectives?? And it took 9 episodes for Sawyer, Jin, Michael and the tailies to be reuinted with the rest of the LOST crew? ) It took on more of a CABLE TV Season format which tends to work better. 13 episode seasons.

        Anyway…I’m rambling on too much about LOST. But the whole point is that there was a lot of thought that went into that format. Walking Dead was a risky endeavor for AMC so I’m sure the short episode order was partly to do with that. But the ratings are a very telling story so we’re going to get more now!

      • Mike

        Wow..didn’t realize how much I repeated myself there. Oh well…take it for what it is! lol

      • Kebert Xela

        Now that we have a zombie show, we need a video game, done GTA style with zombies wandering a city. Or a zombie MMO…

        Sure, Left 4 Dead is cool, and Resident Evil and others, but I really would like to see a game where you have some freedom to move around survive a zombie apocalypse.

        Just an item on my wishlist…

      • Mike

        A Zombie Sandbox game? I’m in!!

      • WI

        Well said about the WD Mike… I like that I was able to discover the show and each one so far has felt meaningful – no filler. Great show!

      • Trolly McTrollerson

        Kebert- Get Red Dead Redemption and download the Undead Nightmare DLC. Sandbox Zombie wish fulfilled.

    • JLC

      I don’t think it was their fault this time. The first six episodes were meant as a kind of “miniseries pilot.” No one, and I mean no one, expected the show to succeed as it has. Just be happy we’re getting a second, 13 episode, season.

      • Kebert Xela

        I am happy. And Greedy. I don’t want just 6 or 19 episodes. I’d like to see 4-5 seaons or more.

        For a Zombie-freak, who is tired of angsty,sparkling vampires, this a great show to have.

        Maybe we are moving into the golden age of zombies.

    • MB

      Dear K Xela: I absolutely agree with you. I loved Lost and they lost me with all the jerking around (which is a good generic term for what happened). I know they need time to put a quality show out – but a 1 or 2 year hiatus is insane. I’m a Zombie freak also and hope the series goes on for years.

  • JM

    On sale 11/29?….weird…I just got mine in the mail yesterday ;)..not that im complaining…was happy suprise :)

  • andrew

    andrew lincoln is the most handsome actor ever

    • Andrew Lincoln

      Thanks, mate!

      • Jeff

        Hey, is that really you? It’s a fantastic show. You should be proud! Also, I loved your work in Love Actually. My family watches that every Xmas, it’s like a new tradition. Love The Walking Dead! You and the rest of the cast completely rule and I am so excited to have this awesome new show!

      • Morgan Freeman

        Of course it’s really him! We Hollywood actors are always on these boards reading about ourselves.

      • Bernie Mac

        I’m here, too!

        Unfortunately, I’m in hell for eternity. I refused a bodyscan and TSA patdown…

      • Kate Gosselin

        Yes. Some of us even troll these sites while our children troll their schools.

      • Charlie Sheen

        I can’t wait to wail on a hooker!

      • Stewie Griffin

        What the deuce?

      • Macaulay Culkin

        I’m still disappointed that they turned down my suggestion of a “Home Alone: With Zombies” approach.

      • Bristol Palin

        I should have won Dancing With the Stars, even though I can’t dance and I’m not a star.

      • Jesus Christ

        I don’t get what the big deal is about coming back from the dead.

  • B. Hussein

    I’m glad I started watching “The Walking Dead”. It has a lot of posisblities and keeps yo on the edge of your seat. This is a quality show but Dexter is currently blowing it out of the water. Not on the same level yet. Not even close.

    • MCS

      Clearly we don’t get the same broadcasts of Dexter.

  • Dietcoke

    This is a terrific new show. Only six episodes for season one. Can’t wait for season two.

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