It’s been barely a week since TNT announced it’s developing an L.A. Noir pilot with Frank Darabont, and the ousted Walking Dead showrunner is already raising expectations for the period drama.
Based on John Buntin’s acclaimed 2009 book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City, the show centers on Joe Teague, a fictional cop caught in “the moral gray zone” between police chief William Parker and mobster Mickey Cohen, two very real figures who fought for control of the city in the 1940s and ’50s.
Talking with TV Guide, Darabont says he hopes to strike a balance between fact and fiction, citing HBO’s Rome as a series that successfully interwove new characters and historical events.
“That’s somewhat the approach that we’re taking,” he said. “We don’t want to be limited by facts, because we never want to abuse the facts but we don’t want to run the risk of this being a dry thing. I want it to be a bright, vibrant piece of fun drama.”
Naturally, Darabont was also asked about his unceremonious firing in July from The Walking Dead, an event that’s been in the spotlight again with recent discussion of his original vision for the Season 2 premiere.
“It was, for the sake of my cast and my crew, a tremendously regretful thing to face, to have to leave. But I was really given no choice,” he said. “I don’t understand the thinking behind, ‘Oh, this is the most successful show in the history of basic cable. Let’s gut the budgets now.’ I never did understand that and I think they got tired of hearing me complain about it. It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s as far as I want to go with it because otherwise it’s just provoking more controversy and that’s not really of interest to me. I just want to keep my head down and do my job and be allowed to do my job, that’s key, and continue to, hopefully, enjoy it and do good work.”
He also addressed reports of the effect his departure had on the cast and crew: “These people are like family to me. It has not been easy for anybody. Let me put it that way: It was like a death in the family. Only I was the dead guy. I felt like William Holden, face down in the swimming pool, narrating this thing.”
L.A. Noir is set to begin filming in April in Los Angeles.