The upcoming Walking Dead spin-off on AMC will barely reference the original show. But fear not, zombie lovers. It will be a lot like the current show in one crucial way. As executive producer David Alpert puts it, it will be "really f—ked up."
Alpert—who helped bring the original show and the sequel to AMC—spoke here in Austin on Friday night at a dinner hosted by ad agency Mullen and The Daily Beast. In a conversation with Beast editor in chief John Avlon, Alpert said the producers didn't want the typical type of spin-off.
"We didn't want to do the traditional thing where you take Joey from Friends and create Joey," he said. "So we boiled it down to what we thought were the core tenets and principles of The Walking Dead as a show—obviously, zombies being one of them, but it's mostly about emotionally investing yourself in the characters."
There will be hardly any overlap with what Alpert called the "mothership," although there will be some—which will no doubt delight hard-core fans.
"There's going to be six seconds that reference the mothership. Six seconds," Alpert said. "The rules will be the same: Zombies don't talk, and there will be no zombie animals. But other than that, as far as references and things, there will only be a few Easter eggs—and those six seconds."
Avlon used the word prequel to describe the spin-off, but Alpert said it isn't, really.
"It's not quite a prequel," he said. "We're going to play with the timeline a little bit, so you'll be seeing things you haven't seen on [The Walking Dead]. It's in an entirely different location—we shot the pilot in Los Angeles—and we're going to invest ourselves in these characters that are nuanced, detailed and honestly really f—ked up and having these awful experiences between themselves, and trying to find their way, as a lot of us do. You have an ex-wife, you have an ex-husband, and you're trying to find out, 'How do I pick up the kids from school?' And just when you think you can barely hold on, zombies start coming."
The show, which is tentatively titled Fear the Walking Dead, will premiere this summer with six one-hour episodes.