Writer to replace Mazzara as topper for cable's No. 1 series

AMC has handed over the reins of “The Walking Dead” to a new showrunner.

Series producer-writer Scott Gimple has replaced Glen Mazzara, who left suddenly late last year — a move that shocked many considering it was the second time a “Walking Dead” showrunner’s stint on the AMC show ended abruptly.

Frank Darabont stepped down as showrunner in summer 2011.

Gimple will step into the role for the fourth season of the skein. AMC declined to comment.

Mazzara served as showrunner for the series’ second and third seasons. He came aboard after Darabont stepped down because he felt the network wasn’t putting enough resources into the show.

Mazzara’s departure led many in the TV biz to question AMC’s moves in tinkering with its biggest ratings winner. “AMC is run by small-minded, bottom-line thinkers,” “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter said in a rant on Twitter.

Mazzara and AMC said the parting of ways was largely amicable and derived from creative differences.

In addition to his work on “Walking Dead,” Gimple penned the script for “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” and served as scribe on TV skeins including “Life,” “FlashForward” and “Fillmore.”

The second half season of season three of “The Walking Dead” premieres on AMC Feb. 10.

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