The 2018 New York Comic Con (NYCC) panel for The Walking Dead has officially been announced, and AMC's Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick is set to moderate. This follows emotional and sexual abuse allegations made against Hardwick by his ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra, which were met with divided reactions of both critics and defenders alike.
Approaching its ninth season (which will also be lead star Andrew Lincoln's final season on the show), The Walking Dead, based on the graphic novel series of the same name created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, is officially making its way to NYCC 2018. However, whereas the bulk of the interest surrounding this news might be typically geared towards season 9's synopsis, new cast members, and Lincoln's final moments, the general focus is on the show's panel moderator, Hardwick, who was dropped as moderator for the Warner Bros./DC panel just this past summer at San Diego Comic-Con.
According to The Wrap, Hardwick will be returning to NYCC as panel moderator for The Walking Dead (he's served as moderator for the show's NYCC panel since 2010). The panel will be held at Madison Square Garden, and will feature cast members Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as well as the show's executive producer/showrunner Angela Kang, executive producer/chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, executive producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, and Dave Alpert, and special effects makeup supervisor/executive producer Greg Nicotero.
Following the accusations made against him, Hardwick's hosting opportunities for a number of gigs were up in the air, including NBC's game show The Wall and AMC's Talking Dead, which serves as a recap following each episode of The Walking Dead, as well as Fear the Walking Dead. However, both NBC and AMC decided to allow Hardwick to return for future seasons.
Regardless of personal opinions felt towards the controversy surrounding Hardwick, it's unmistakably a bold move to hand over hosting duties to him mere months after the allegations. Especially being so soon after the inception of the #MeToo movement, it might seem questionable, if not in bad taste, to not instead delegate those duties to someone else - even if only temporarily. That said, fan reaction and ratings will be the ultimate validation as to whether Hardwick is someone the general public wholly supports as host, or in general, for that matter.
Sources: The Wrap