The series, which was codenamed "Cobalt" during the production of the pilot, is said by unnamed sources to be a prequel to AMC's blockbuster zombie drama. Similar to "The Walking Dead's" debut season back in 2010, the spinoff's first season will consist of six hour-long episodes. The series is set to debut in "late summer," according to the announcement, with the already greenlit second season slated for 2016.
"We feel empowered by this two-season commitment, a serious show of faith from our network partner AMC," said "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman, who is also executive producer on the new series. "I personally take it as a sign that they believe, like we do, that we've accomplished our goal of developing something original that can pay tribute to the original show and expand the world I created while at the same time having something new to say with this story. I'm very grateful that we now have the opportunity to tell this amazing story and show the fans that we really haven't scratched the surface yet when it comes to 'The Walking Dead.'"
This isn't the first time that AMC has committed to a second season of a series before airing a single episode. The network pulled a similar maneuver last summer with "Breaking Bad" spinoff "Better Call Saul."
While AMC has remained secretive regarding the show's premise, sources have told THR that the series will take place before the zombie outbreak that occurred somewhere during Rick's coma in the "Walking Dead" pilot. AMC has confirmed that the series will be set in Los Angeles, as was previously rumored.
The series will star Cliff Curtis as divorced teacher Sean Cabrera and Kim Dickens as the female lead, a guidance counselor named Nancy. Frank Dillane and Alycia Debnam Carey are also attached to star as Dickens' children, Nick and Ashley. Adam Davidson, who previously helmed episodes of "Friday Night Lights" and "Fringe," directed the recently-wrapped pilot. The companion series will be executive produced by "The Walking Dead's" Kirkman, Dave Erickson, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert.
UPDATE 3/11/2015 12:30 PM PT: The previous photo that ran with this article has been removed at the request of AMC, and updated with a new image from the series.