'Hell on Wheels' on Hold as AMC Searches for New Showrunner
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Nov. 1, 2012
AMC's third-season renewal for Hell on Wheels is on hold.
Mere days after the Western starring Anson Mount and Common was picked up for a 10-episode third season with John Shiban at its helm, the new showrunner has departed the series, citing personal reasons.
"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," AMC said in a statement on behalf of co-producers Endemol and Entertainment One. "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."
Shiban (Breaking Bad, The X-Files), who has been with the series since its first season, was set to take over for creators/showrunners Joe and Tony Gayton, who exited the drama after their contract was not picked up. The brothers will continue to consult on the series when and if a new showrunner is found.
"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," Shiban said in a statement. "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."
AMC renewed the series, from Endemol, Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures, on Monday. The period drama's second season was down 2 million total viewers after losing ratings juggernaut The Walking Dead as a lead-in. Season two's 2.4 million viewers are down considerably from the 3 million the series averaged during its freshman run. Season two concluded its run Oct. 7.
For AMC, the move marks the latest in a string of behind-the-scenes showrunner drama among its original fare. The network fired Frank Darabont from The Walking Dead ahead of its second season, and Rubicon creator/EP Jason Horwitch exited during its lone season.