There's drama brewing on and off the screen at AMC's Hell On Wheels. According to an official statements, after the ye olde west-centric show got itself a 10-episode renewal for its third season, showrunning/executive producer John Shiban decided that he would no longer continue his duties on the show.
Shiban released his own statement: "I'm very proud of our work on Hell On Wheels and was thrilled to hear the show would have a Season Three. I have since made the difficult decision that the time has come for me to leave. I care deeply about the series and will do whatever I can to aid in the transition to ensure the continued success of the show. I truly value all the time I have spent with this wonderful group of very talented people."
In response, AMC released a statement of their own: "John Shiban has informed AMC, Entertainment One and Endemol that while he was fully on board when the network informed him about their intent to pick-up Hell on Wheels, he has since made the personal decision that he will be unable to return as showrunner. He has asked the production partners to seek a replacement showrunner. Like all of our shows, network pick-ups are always conditioned on an approved showrunner. We are confident that eOne and Endemol will satisfy that obligation in the near future."
With this revelation, the show's future is now being called into question—or at least put on hold until a new showrunner is announced. It was previously noted that creators/executive producers Joe Gayton and Tony Gayton would leave their daily show duties, but potentially stay on as consultants. With the additional, unforeseen loss of Shiban, though, it remains to be seen who will be able to tame this wild, wild west. Who knew building the Union Pacific Railroad would be easier than creating a show about it?
This is not AMC's first time at the show-shuffle rodeo. The Walking Dead's Frank Darabont left the show in Season 2, while Rubicon creator Jason Horwitch exited in the midst of production on that show's first and only season. Before Hell On Wheels, Shiban previously worked as a consulting producer on one of AMC's other hit shows, Breaking Bad.
[Photo Credit: Chris Large/AMC]
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AMC has become the network to watch out for when it comes to original programming. The Killing may have been a waste of time (and an incredibly frustrating one, at that), but they're still responsible for programs like Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad. That's why you should be pumped for Hell On Wheels, AMC's latest endeavor. The series, which will premiere following The Walking Dead, is a historical drama that focuses on the construction of the transcontinental railroad after the Civil War.
Hell On Wheels premieres Sunday, November 6, at 10 pm. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this is the new Deadwood.
Anson Mount (of the upcoming Straw Dogs) will star as former confederate soldier out for revenge after the death of his wife. Presumably, he'll do this while building the railroad. Or at least taking trains. Rapper turned actor Common will also star as a recently emancipated slave, along with Dominique McElligott, Colm Meaney and Eddie Spears.
This isn't AMC's first foray into the wild west; they produced the mini-series Broken Trail in 2006. "Since Broken Trail, AMC has looked for the next expression of an original Western series," said AMC's senior VP of original programming, production and digital content, Joel Stillerman, "Hell on Wheels is an incredibly powerful story that captures the intensity and inspiration of the American West at a time when nothing less than the future of the nation was at stake. The characters and the story that Joe and Tony Gayton, Jeremy Gold, and John Shiban have created; and that our terrific cast and crew have realized is compelling, epic, and a truly original take on a classic American genre of storytelling."
The series is appropriately timed, as the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War was this April. Being the mamby-pamby liberal arts History major that I am, I'm always glad to see a historical TV series, especially one that takes a multicultural bent. Fortunately for us, and for AMC, American history isn't all just old guys making speeches. Because that would make for some incredibly boring TV. Not to mention, a boring country.
Rest assured, X-philes. Conspiracy theories, paranormal activities, unexplained phenomena -- the stuff that keeps Mulder, Sculley, and "X-Files" fanatics going -- are about to find another outlet on network TV.
While the fate of the popular Fox sci-fier is still up in the air, the network is officially rolling out plans to keep the spirit of paranoia alive in another form. So who's in charge of picking up the truth-seeking torch? Three subterranean computer geeks irregularly showcased on the sci-fi series, known as the Lone Gunmen (a k a actors Bruce Harwood , Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund).
Top honchos at Fox confirmed on Thursday that a pilot for an "X-Files" spin-off, featuring the conspiracy-obsessed trio, has been given the go-ahead. The show's being considered for the 2000-2001 prime-time season.
Created by "X-Files" architect Chris Carter and series behind-the-sceners Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban, the offshoot is said to be a light drama with an aura of quirkiness. And even though the tenuous romance angle à la Mulder and Sculley won't be reproduced, the show will reportedly introduce similar sexual tension in the form of a competing female conspiracy theorist whom the Lone Gunmen lust after -- and resent.
In the midst of all the hubbub surrounding the spin-off, someone from the Fox and Carter camp apparently forgot to notify the Gunmen themselves. Dean Haglund, the guy with the long-hair heavy-metal do who plays Langley, took his head-scratching confusion to The Lone Gunmen fansite (http://www.deanx.com/buzz.htm) when he heard words of a "X-Files" spin-off in which he, and his other two cohorts, are tapped to be the leads. He wrote:
"I'm sure that many of you now have read about the Television Critics Association's (Hence known as the TCA) afternoon session with the heads of Fox television where they announced that Chris Carter was planning a spin-off of the lone Gunmen.
"... Anyway, we are at this thing and we have to work later that night so we have to leave early but, basically, everyone crowds around the three of us and asked us about the spin off. Now there has been a half joking rumor about this for the longest time so it was with reflex action that we all spoke to the press telling them that there was nothing to it. Then they said that the President of Fox just said so."
No word yet if Haglund and his crew are working on some sort of elaborate conspiracy theory regarding what the Lone Gunmen might call the spin-off cover-up.