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'Breaking Bad' considers leaving AMC for its fifth season

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(Read caption) The cast of 'Breaking Bad' looks anxious here in a scene from the fourth season of the program, currently broadcast on AMC (Ursula Coyote/AMC/AP).

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Just three episodes into its fourth season and trouble may be brewing for AMC’s critical darling Breaking Bad. According to recent reports, the network and the show’s production company, Sony Pictures Television, have begun talks regarding the fifth (and likely final) season of the show – and those talks have hit something of a wall.

The issue stems from AMC once more looking to cut costs. In the case of Breaking Bad,that would mean a season consisting of only 6-8 episodes – rather than the typical 12-13 the series has had in past seasons.

Naturally, series creator Vince Gilligan is none too happy at the prospect of concluding his crime opus with only half the normal episodes at his disposal, and is considering jumping ship, if necessary.

RELATED: Mad Men season 5 pushed back to 2012, AMC says

Is this just another case of business minds not coinciding with those on the creative side of things – or are both sides merely making threats in order to better reach a middle ground? Whatever the network’s true intention, Sony has begun to inquire whether other cable networks might be interested in the series – should talks with AMC deteriorate completely.

AMC, which is widely considered to be one of the preeminent destinations for quality television has, of late, been embroiled in some potentially disastrous negotiations with the producers of their biggest hits – that are, arguably, also the reason AMC is as highly regarded as it is.

Of course, a similar cost-cutting initiative resulted in Mad Men missing out on a 2011 season altogether. However, those negotiations ended with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner receiving a very lucrative deal and a similar deal was made for series star Jon Hamm. It is expected the rest of the cast will all see more green in their future as well.

So, is the result of the Mad Men deal now causing AMC to require other programs pinch pennies?

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Amidst the Breaking Bad news, comes word that the network has also slashed the episode budget of their biggest hit, The Walking Dead. Reportedly, the zombie series has seen $250,000 per episode eliminated from its sophomore season’s budget – which many are now speculating played a significant part in Frank Darabont’s abrupt departure last week.

Potential suitors for the show would likely insist on more than one season for their trouble, which could put the Breaking Bad crew in a rather tough position. Wrap the series up in fewer episodes, or extend the story by a year (at least).

As this issue will likely affect the outcome of the series, we will be sure to follow up on the negotiations regarding Breaking Bad and AMC.

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Meanwhile, the fourth season of Breaking Bad continues Sunday nights @10 pm on AMC.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

RELATED: Mad Men season 5 pushed back to 2012, AMC says

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Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant

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