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Did Frank Darabont and TNT Just Spoil The Walking Dead?

[Spoilery speculation ahead.] Huh! Variety is reporting that TNT and Frank Darabont are in the early stages of wooing Jon Bernthal for Darabont's newly green-lit period series L.A. Noir. Bernthal, however, is currently playing the ethically questionable, shorn-haired Shane, the second male lead on AMC's The Walking Dead, the show that Darabont created and recently — not so peacefully — parted ways with. While there is a remote possibility that Bernthal could pull double duty on both series, it seems more likely that this piece of news is actually a pretty big spoiler about what's to come on The Walking Dead, which begins the second half of its second season on February 12. Consider the evidence: Not only would it be very hard to have lead parts on shows simultaneously shooting in Atlanta and L.A., but TVline recently ran a blind item about a TWD lead leaving the show. If Darabont et al are considering Bernthal for L.A. Noir, that's a pretty strong indicator that his days in zombieville are numbered. In the comics, Shane does indeed die fairly early on in the series — another sign pointing to Bernthal's exit. And to some continued bad blood between AMC and Darabont.

Photo: Gene Page/TWD Productions/AMC