While AMC said the split was amicable, there were people who doubted this. The network previously let go Frank Darabont in July 2011 and had disagreements with writers/producers on Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Both AMC and Walking Dead comic writer and show producer Robert Kirkman were blamed by names like Shawn Ryan (Last Resort) and Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy. Both worked with Mazzara on Ryan's FX show The Shield.
Ryan tweeted: "It's a real question now why good showrunners should sell to AMC." He added that AMC sent him "a gift basket filled with … broken promises and the marinated tongue used to lick Kirkman's ass."
Sutter then posted a video on his website in which he slammed AMC for not allowing showrunners to have more creative freedom. He added that Kirkman is an amazing visual artist and a graphic artist [but] knows very little about TV, and the reins keep going back to him in this process, and he doesn't know how to run a show."
Other sources say that Kirkman is "very proprietary." A source added: "I believe Robert wants to maintain a certain amount of his control, and AMC needs Robert for the fan base."
Sources say that Kirkman was only one of several producers who had problems with Mazzara's plan for the show. One source said his shortcomings became "abundantly clear … especially for the second half of the season." Production was said to be shut down "several times" because of a lack of material.
Mazzara has not commented but will be at a January 11 AFI awards luncheon that will honor the program as one of the top shows of 2012.
Kirkman has only responded to the controversy with the following tweet: "@sutterink is brilliant and Sons is my favorite show on TV. Still, it's upsetting to see him ranting about things he knows nothing about."