AMC’s Talking Dead was different tonight on both sides of the camera as Chris Hardwick returned to host the zombie apocalypse aftershow following an ex-girlfriend’s allegations of sexual assault and a co-executive producer and several other staffers exiting in protest.
“Normally I recap the show we’re about to talk about here, but instead I just wanted to take a minute to say that I am so appreciative to be standing here right now and I want to thank you, the Walking Dead community, for all of your support these last couple of months,” said a more subdued than usual Hardwick right at the top of a pre-taped Talking Dead on Sunday, following the mid-season debut of Fear The Walking Dead earlier tonight.
The seemingly near-tears Hardwick made no direct reference to the harrowing first-person claims by Chloe Dykstra in mid-June that he sexually and emotionally abused her during their relationship nor his denial of such claims on June 15. However, the host did say that he was “so grateful to the fans, producers and the amazing casts of both of these shows for allowing me to come here and be a part of this community every week.” (See Hardwick’s full remarks from tonight below).
After that, Hardwick also made a point of telling frequent guest and temporarily announced interim Talking Dead host Yvette Nicole Brown that she is “such an amazing friend” and a “gift on this planet.” Publicly supporting the Talking Dead host during the claims and subsequent investigations, the Community actor was given Hardwick’s TWD and FearTWD Comic-Con moderating gigs on July 3 after the latter stepped away from them. Hardwick also relinquished a previously announced San Diego confab Doctor Who slot on June 16.
Despite that shout out and hug with Brown and his mention of “producers,” Hardwick tonight did not mention the exit of co-EP Jen Patton and other staffers from Talking Dead in protest over his reinstatement late last month. Also once an exec on the other AMC chat shows Talking with Chris Hardwick, Talking Preacher, and Talking Saul, Patton worked with Hardwick for nearly five years.
“They felt they couldn’t stay after Chloe was not part of the investigation,” an insider told Deadline of Patton and the departure of the others after Ivy Kagan Bierman of law firm Loeb & Loeb probed into the claims and gave Hardwick a “back to work” pass. AMC had no comment on the co-EP and the others who have left Talking Dead as Hardwick came back.
No title changes of yet but fellow co-EP Brandon Monk remains on Talking Dead with Hardwick’s return and is essentially running things.
Hardwick had a meeting with Monk and around two dozen remaining employees on August 8, where the host offered to discuss the allegations and any other matter in full one-on-one if staffers desired. Talking with Chris Hardwick was originally set to premiere its second season on June 17, but was pulled the day before by AMC. The cabler has not yet said when TWCH will come back on-air.
Following exonerating investigations of Dykstra’s allegations by AMC and NBC on July 31, the on-screen rehabilitation of Hardwick actually began on August 7 when The Wall host appeared as a guest judge on America’s Got Talent.
On TD tonight, which was filmed around 5 PM today, Hardwick and Brown were joined by FearTWD stars Danay Garcia and series co-showrunner Ian B. Goldberg. After Hardwick’s initial statement and words to Brown, they all went into the show’s usual mode. In this case, that meant dissecting the fallout from the deaths of Frank Dillane’s Nick Clark and Kim Dickens’ Madison Clark in the first part of Season 4 and the declaration by Lennie James’ Morgan Jones that he was returning to the Alexandria sanctuary and the group of Survivors led by Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes, played by the departing Andrew Lincoln.
However, as Hardwick was stepping back in front of the camera this week, Dykstra reiterated her claims online on Friday and her assertion that she has “evidence” to back those allegations up:
Hey dudes. Just a reminder: I 100% stand by every single word of my essay. I made sure it was unembellished, factual, and that I had evidence to back it up in order to protect myself in case of ACTUAL litigation (not a network investigation, where I’m not protected). That is all.
— Chloe Dykstra (@skydart) August 10, 2018
Here are the full remarks Hardwick made at the start of the Talking Dead tonight:
Hello. Normally I recap the show we’re about to talk about here, but instead I just wanted to take a minute to say that I am so appreciative to be standing here right now and I want to thank you, the Walking Dead community, for all of your support these last couple of months.
This show isn’t just a job to me, it is a vital part of my life and has been like a sanctuary these last seven years. It’s been with me through good times and bad and I’m so grateful to the fans, producers and the amazing casts of both of these shows for allowing me to come here and be a part of this community every week.
It seems like we are on the precipice of great change on both Walking Dead shows in the coming weeks and months and I look forward to going on that journey with you. I’ve said the following words a million times and yet I have never been more thankful than I am in this moment to say: I am Chris Hardwick, and welcome to Talking Dead.