The question lately is, what the hell is going on over at AMC? Frank Darabont walked from his hit series and Breaking Bad producers were so frustrated that they flirted with the notion of taking the show to another network. When Darabont left The Walking Dead, it was assumed that he wasn't up for the rigors of a 13 episode order. But, that doesn't seem very likely given his talent and character. He did allude to some budget problems when he sat down for THR's Show Runner Roundtable and now the LA Times has thrown out a pretty likely theory.

Hollywood is wondering if Don Draper and the rest of the Mad Men gang have drunk and smoked their way through cable channel AMC's programming budget.

Over the last two weeks, AMC has pushed to make cuts on two of its other big shows — The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad — moves that came as a surprise to the creative forces behind those popular series.

The push to rein in costs comes only months after"Mad Men" creator and executive producer Matt Weiner received a huge new contract to continue the show about swinging 1960s ad men for at least two more seasons. His price tag of close to $10 million a season has those who work on rival shows grumbling that they are being asked to foot the bill for Draper's martinis.

In the case of the zombie smash The Walking Dead, AMC will be slashing about $250,000 per episode for its second season. Frank Darabont, the well-regarded executive producer of The Walking Dead, was also replaced last week, just days after he appeared at the Comic-Con convention to greet the show's fan base and promote upcoming episodes.

AMC declined to comment on speculation that Darabont was forced out in part over a disagreement about the show's new budget. Darabont did not return a call seeking comment.

I'm inclined to believe this theory, and it's a really sad one that I wish had a different outcome. On the one hand, white people love Mad Men. But on the other, The Walking Dead is a runaway hit with huge crossover appeal. This is not a fair way to treat your moneymakers. If only they could have pulled funding from their neverending spree of Charles Bronson marathons.