In a surprise development, Frank Spotnitz has exited his Amazon series The Man In The High Castle, TVWise has confirmed. This came down a few days ago, with Spotnitz’s exit as showrunner being the result of clashes with Amazon Studios over the creative direction of the show’s second season, TVWise has confirmed. Deadline first reported the news.
Spotnitz will continue to be listed as an executive producer alongside the likes of Ridley Scott and David Zucker, but he will not be involved in the day-to-day production. Additionally, as a result of his exit the show is going on hiatus until early June and he is not being directly replaced, with the existing team assuming his responsibilities.
Per Amazon, the exit was motivated by a need to to locate all creative efforts on The Man in the High Castle to the west coast. “We are enormously grateful to him for bringing our customers on one of the most watched original shows on Amazon Video and we are excited about the team’s vision for season two”, Amazon added in a statement.
Sources tell TVWise, however, that there is no truth to reports that Spotnitz’s departure was a result of him having a “hands-off” approach to the production and was entirely due to creative clashes with Amazon Studios.
Furthermore, sources who have worked closely with Spotnitz on a number of productions have attested to his strong work ethic, throwing further doubt on the “hands-off” claim. For what it’s worth, Amazon has form when it comes to micro-managing talent and has had similar issues with numerous veteran writers/producers in the past.
The Man In The High Castle, based on the Phillip K. Dick novel, has been something of a passion project for Spotnitz. Ridley Scott had been trying to get an adaptation off the ground for years and as the option was about to expire, David Zucker, President of Television for Scott Free, approached Spotnitz, who came on-board to develop the project for TV. Initially it was envisioned as a miniseries for Syfy, before a fortuitous turn of events saw it land at Amazon.
As Spotnitz himself told TVWise last year, “[Syfy] didn’t proceed and it was basically dead. Then I got a call from Morgan Wondell who I knew from my Night Stalker days and he said, ‘I just joined Amazon and do you have a script that you just love? We are looking for something with deep passion’. I told him that I had the Man in the High Castle. Amazingly, he loved it and everyone else at Amazon loved it and six months later it was greenlit”.
The pilot was released on Amazon Prime in January 2015 and in short order had racked up an impressive number of positive reviews and became the streaming service’s most watched pilot ever. On that basis, Amazon picked the project up to series the following month, with the first season dropping this past November. The debut season was also well received and inside of a month Amazon renewed The Man In The High Castle for a second season.
Even with his exit from High Castle, Frank Spotnitz – a respected veteran of the industry whose previous credits include The X-Files, Hunted and Crossing Lines – has a number of other projects in the works; most notably Medici: Masters Of Florence, starring Dustin Hoffman and Richard Madden, which is currently being shopped to the networks.