A lawsuit over TV's billion dollar hit Walking Dead has exploded after explosive emails between the warring parties were made public.
The show's original showrunner, Oscar nominee Frank Darabont, was dropped from the show in 2012 has sued network AMC for US$280 million, saying he and his team were denied a fair share of the show's profits.
The zombie drama has likely booked more than US$1 billion in gross receipts and commands 17 million viewers in the US, which is more than many NFL games.
The Hollywood Reporter states that court documents show how Darabont, who wrote the screenplay for and directed The Shawshank Redemption, fell out with the network when they cut the show's budget by 25 per cent for season two.
Darabont doesn't hold back in the emails from 2011, including to executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.
"F**k you all for giving me chest pains because of the staggering f**king incompetence, blindness to the important beats, and the beyond-arrogant lack of regard for what is written being exhibited on set every day," he wrote. "I deserve better than a heart attack because people are too stupid to read a script and understand the words. Does anybody disagree with me? Then join the C-cam operator and go find another job that doesn't involve deliberately f**king up my show scene by scene."
In another email that month, he asked why camera operators were being paid when "Ray Charles could operate better".
In an email to AMC executives Ben Davis, he said: "Please let's stop invoking 'the writers room' There IS no writers room, which you know as well as I do.
"I am the writers room. The f**king lazy assholes who were supposedly going to be my showrunners threw that responsibility on me after wasting five months of my time."
He was then fired from the show.
AMC's lawyer said: "Darabont's erratic and unprofessional performance and his behavioural and interpersonal issues during Season 2 raised a number of concerns for AMC Studios.
"Among other things, his failure to timely deliver scripts, failure to adequately supervise the writers' room, and his volatile and disturbing interactions with staff and talent were impacting production."
The lawsuit continues.