Sometimes hearty ratings and a loyal audience aren't enough to ensure a stable gig for a television writer. According to Deadline The Walking Dead writer / director / and executive producer, Frank Darabont, may be replacing the show's writing staff with freelancers for the show's second season, meaning the show's current crew could soon be looking for their next assignments sooner than later.

Gutting a writing staff and transitioning to freelancers isn't a super common move in Hollywood, so if true, the decision may face opposition by the powerful Writer's Guild Of America. The model to use freelancers over a permanent writing staff is popular in the U.K., particularly with the BBC, which often airs shows with seasons consisting of no more than six episodes. In the U.S., where seasons usually run 13- 22 episodes, maintaining the show's quality without a permanent staff may be tricky.

Although no reasons have been provided for this potential move, there's speculation that the cost of producing the show may be a factor. The first season of The Walking Dead consisted of six episodes while the next season will run 13. AMC has developed a reputation for producing high quality, but also expensive, programming, and they recently canceled the show Rubicon, perhaps in an effort to put additional funding behind The Walking Dead. But even so, not knowing the actual budgets of the show, it could be possible that reducing the number of writers was needed to keep the show in line with the channel's budgetary expectations.

In other words, the channel is doing what they can to support the show, but the show still needs to do its part to keep costs under control. AMC, unlike HBO, relies on advertising revenue as their primary source of income, and in a weak economy, they need to stretch as many dollars as they can.

Do you think the quality of The Walking Dead will suffer if the show's writing is handled by freelancers next season?

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