AMC’s Sarah Barnett Opens Up About Georgia Abortion Ban, ‘The Walking Dead’ & SundanceTV Non-Scripted Plans – Banff

AMC Entertainment Networks chief Sarah Barnett said that the issue of whether to move The Walking Dead from Georgia as a result of the state’s abortion ban was a “lot to weigh on”.

She discussed the issue in a wide-ranging interview at the Banff World Media Festival, where she also touched on plans to move more digital shows to linear, new opportunities for non-scripted programming on SundanceTV and how she views the zombie drama in a similar fashion to Star Wars and Marvel.

Barnett backed up the Breaking Bad broadcaster’s recent statement that it was taking a closer look at the “highly restrictive legislation” as The Walking Dead is currently shooting its tenth season in Atlanta.

She said she considers it a civil rights issue. “If women don’t have reproductive autonomy we can’t participate in society as humans. There is a lot to weigh on,” she said. “Any attempt to roll back rights women have acquired is not good for all, for gender equality.”

In terms of The Walking Dead, she refused to give any details of the forthcoming untitled spin-off series, other than it would feature two female protagonists and that it “feels quite different”. But she added, “For as long as audiences come to these shows, we’ll continue to look at the franchise or Walking Dead universe, which we see in the same way as Star Trek or Star Wars or Marvel.”

Elsewhere, Barnett said that it would look to take more shows that have initially appeared on its digital services, including Sundance Now, Shudder and AMC Premiere, to its linear networks following the success of A Discovery of Witches. The British drama, which was commissioned by Sky, moved to AMC behind Killing Eve after launching online. She said the Matthew Goode-fronted drama had a “really interesting trajectory”. “So we’re going to be looking at doing quite a lot more,” she added.

On SundanceTV, Brit Barnett also alluded to plans to beef up its efforts in the non-scripted space. The channel does not air a lot of non-scripted programming, but has previously commissioned doc series including true crime documentary event series, Murder in the Heartland: In Cold Blood Revisited and Leonardo DiCaprio executive produced documentary Jonestown: Terror In The Jungle. “There are actually some really interesting things going on in the non-scripted space for SundanceTV,” she hinted.

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