“Talking Dead” host Chris Hardwick returned to TV for the first time since he was accused of being abusive by ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra, and opened Sunday night’s show with a brief statement of thanks to fans — without addressing the allegations about his actions.
“Hi, normally I recap the show we’re about to talk about here, but instead I really just want to take a minute and say I’m so appreciative to be standing here right now,” Hardwick said in the cold open. “I want to thank you, ‘The Walking Dead’ community, for all of your support these last couple of months. You know, this show is not just a job to me. This is a vital part of my life. This has been a sanctuary these last seven years we’ve been here. This has been with me through good times and bad times, and I have so much gratitude to you, the fans. And the producers and the amazing casts of both of these shows, for allowing me to come here and be a part of this community every week.
“This is what this is, this is a community. And we’re on the precipice of a lot of changes on both “Walking Dead’ shows in the coming weeks and months. I’m so looking forward to going on that journey with you. And I’ve said the following words a million times, countless times and yet I have never been more thankful than I am at this very moment to say to you, that I am Chris Hardwick, and this is ‘Talking Dead.'”
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The return episode of “Talking Dead,” timed to the return of the second half of “Fear the Walking Dead” Season 4, was reportedly taped earlier today. That’s a change from the show’s traditionally live format. But “Talking Dead” was back under immensely different circumstances from before. Superfan Yvette Nicole Brown, executive producer Ian Goldberg, and “Fear” star Danay Garcia were the guests with Hardwick.
Hardwick also took a moment to thank Brown for filling in for him at Comic-Con. “You are a gift on this planet,” he said.
Hardwick was accused of sexual abuse by ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra in a Medium essay written earlier this summer. In the piece, Dykstra detailed an abusive, years-long relationship with an unnamed man whom readers quickly deduced was Hardwick.
After the post, AMC yanked Hardwick’s “Talking With Chris Hardwick” off the air and Hardwick stepped down from hosting AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead” San Diego Comic-Con panels. Hardwick was also originally pulled from the return of “Talking Dead,” with Yvette Nicole Brown set to fill in on tonight’s return episode.
But on July 25, AMC announced that it had completed an investigation into Hardwick, who was then reinstated as host of the “Talking” franchise.
“Following a comprehensive assessment by AMC, working with Ivy Kagan Bierman of the firm Loeb & Loeb, who has considerable experience in this area, Chris Hardwick will return to AMC as the host of ‘Talking Dead’ and ‘Talking with Chris Hardwick,’” the network said. “We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step.”
Soon after that, NBC confirmed that Hardwick would appear as scheduled on the August 7 episode of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” as a guest judge. He is also confirmed to continue as host of the Peacock’s “The Wall” when it returns to the network for Season 3. And Legendary Entertainment, which had pulled Hardwick’s name off its Nerdist website (which Hardwick, who now has no involvement, originally launched), has returned his name to the site.
All of this didn’t sit well with some staffers on “Talking Dead.” A female executive producer chose to depart the after-show along with a “handful” of its 25 or so staffers now that Hardwick has returned.
Dykstra also weighed in on Friday via Twitter:
Hey dudes. Just a reminder: I 100% stand by every single word of my essay. I made sure it was unembellished, factual, and that I had evidence to back it up in order to protect myself in case of ACTUAL litigation (not a network investigation, where I’m not protected). That is all.
— Chloe Dykstra (@skydart) August 10, 2018