AMC President On ‘Breaking Bad’ Order, ‘Walking Dead’ Budget & ‘Mad Men’ Deal

RELATED: ‘Breaking Bad’ Eyeing Two-Season Final Run

For a network that has only 5 shows on the air, AMC has been in the headlines with series-related issues an awful lot during the past 8 months, first over the difficult and very public negotiations with Mad Men creator Matt Weiner and more recently over the abrupt exit of The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and the ongoing negotiations for Breaking Bad. I caught up tonight with AMC president Charlie Collier who declined to discuss the specifics surrounding the Breaking Bad talks with producer Sony Pictures TV and Darabont’s departure but addressed several other issues that have been the subject of a lot of speculation, including rumored budget cuts on Walking Dead which some have linked to Darabont’s exit and reported AMC demands for a 6-8-episode fifth season of Breaking Bad.

Deadline: Did you cut the budget on The Walking Dead in Season 2?

Collier: If you look at pilot budgets vs. pattern budgets usually the pilot budget is much higher than what ends up being the pattern budget. With The Walking Dead, instead of doing a pilot, we went straight to 6 episodes because we believed in the team and the talent in front and behind the camera. Then we came back with a 13-episode second season, and amortization over 13 episodes is very different than over 6. But we settled into one of the highest pattern budgets for a basic cable series.

Deadline: So the overall budget for Season 2 is lower than the Season 1 because of the amortization factor?

Collier: We went straight to series, with the first season serving in many ways as a pilot, and then we have settled into a 13-episode pattern budget.

Deadline: Did AMC want to truncate season 5 of Breaking Bad?

Collier: There has been a lot reported about this negotiation, but we would never comment on an open negotiation in the press. There have been all sorts of scenarios about how to bring Breaking Bad back on our air, we proposed many scenarios not just one format. The truth is that we have productive negotiations with Sony in hopes of doing right by both companies and the fans of this great show.

Deadline: Matt Weiner’s deal was very lucrative, estimated at $25 million-$30 million. How does that impact your investments in other programming?

Collier: The Mad Men deal is one that we are incredibly proud of. We had 2 goals going into the negotiations: first, to bring back Matt Weiner and secondly, to assure that the show not only starts on AMC, but that when Matt is ready, it will also conclude on our air. But to answer your question, the Mad Men negotiation had nothing to do with our other programming. Going into Mad Men we knew that right behind it would be negotiations on Breaking Bad, The Killing and others. The negotiations for Mad Men were factored into our plans. Some have reported that the Mad Men deal has affected our assessment of other programming and nothing could be further from the truth.

Deadline: AMC has been in the headlines with a lot of high profile issues as of late. Is the network having growing pains?

Collier: Negotiations, staffing issues, good and bad reviews, it’s all part of the business.  Ours happen to be a little  higher profile right now. We feel privileged to be telling some of the best stories on television and working with some of the most talented people in the business.

Comments (40)

  • wow. charlie collier’s answer about walking dead budget is hilarious. for any little britain fans out there, this is basically his answer, “yes, but no. but yes.”

    Comment by goodjobrob — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 8:49pm PDT  
  • Christ, not one straight answer.

    Comment by EOTW — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 8:54pm PDT  
  • Wait till you see Hell On Wheels. It’s amazing.

    Comment by woody — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 9:00pm PDT  
  • “I caught up tonight with AMC president Charlie Collier who declined to discuss the specifics surrounding the Breaking Bad talks with producer Sony Pictures TV and Darabont’s departure but addressed several other issues that have been the subject of a lot of speculation, including rumored budget cuts on Walking Dead which some have linked to Darabont’s exit and reported AMC demands for a 6-8-episode fifth season of Breaking Bad.”

    You mean talked around several other issues.

    Comment by seemee — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 9:22pm PDT  
  • Wow!

    That was… evasive.

    Comment by Sheldon W. — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 9:25pm PDT  
  • Collier’s media training is plain as day. The walking dead without darabont’s creative vision will be a show about zombies. It will lose the humanity and hope that is the core of the show. I am not as interested in shooting zombies, running and hiding from zombies, as I am in what drives the characters to hold on to or lose their hope and humanity. They should have fought to keep him.

    Comment by alisha — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 9:39pm PDT  
    • That’s just crap… If you know the comics they are all about humanity, its decline and the relationships between the survivors. Hurd is still on the show and most importantly Kirkman, the comic’s creator is still an executive producer. It won’t change a lot.

      Comment by GabbaGandalf — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 11:19pm PDT  
  • He only has more problems coming. The pilot for Hell on Wheels was recently screened for critics and word is that it’s pretty bad. Several television critics have mentioned that the show needs a lot of work and is well below the standards viewers have come to expect from AMC.

    Charlie keeps spinning the problems with The Killing being related to “managing viewer’s expectations” and seems oblivious that the larger problem with the show was the terrible writing, with the infamous finale being the series low-water mark. The series is going to plummet in the ratings and is pretty much dead at this point.

    AMC needs to develop something big and exciting. Go after intellectual material like they did with Breaking Bad/Mad Men. The new execs that have populated the channel over the last couple of years don’t seem to know much about art and have shown that they don’t really know their channel’s audience. Have anyone see the various reality tv shows they have in development? Yikes!

    Comment by cable guy — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 10:09pm PDT  
    • Hell on Wheels is getting a lot of mixed reviews, I still hope it’ll turn out to be good, but I’m reserved.

      But imho AMC should start getting into the reality TV business. I don’t watch reality TV and I don’t like it, but it’s cheap, makes good money and apparently that’s something AMC needs these days. And if some crappy reality shows help getting the next Breaking Bad on the air, I’m all in.

      Comment by GabbaGandalf — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 11:22pm PDT  
  • I’m not convinced Darabont was the best thing for that show. It will be interesting to see if there is a noticeable change for the better or worse after the episodes he worked on all air and we can compare them to the post-Darabont episodes. Collier’s answers aren’t terrible I guess…

    Comment by Walker — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 10:10pm PDT  
  • So slimy. And what a load of &#%$#@#!

    Comment by Mr. Quip — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 10:20pm PDT  
  • Now that was unsophisticated… and he’s the President of the channel?

    Comment by AC — Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 11:04pm PDT  
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