"The Walking Dead" inspires new convention in Atlanta

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in a scene from the season 4 premiere of "The Walking Dead." Gene Page/AMC

AMC's "The Walking Dead" already has a college course to its name, and has now inspired a new convention, a podcast and a one-man play.

The podcast and Atlanta-based convention are the creations of Eric Nordhoff and James Frazier, also known as the "Walker Stalkers" because of a road trip they made last fall from Nashville, Tenn., to Georgia to see the TV series being filmed.

The convention, Walker Stalker Con, is expected to draw 10,000 or more participants when it's held early next month, Nordhoff said.

"The Walking Dead" characters battle zombies known as "walkers" in the streets of downtown Atlanta and in forests, small towns and a prison south of the city.

The convention will feature appearances by some of the show's stars, including Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), Andrew Lincoln (Sheriff Rick Grimes) and Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene).

The series returned for its fourth season earlier this month with its biggest audience ever. The 16.1 million people who watched the Oct. 13 series premier shattered the show's previous record of 12.4 million, the Nielsen company said. AMC is also developing a "Walking Dead" spin-off, targeted to air in 2015.

Nordhoff and Frazier are neighbors in suburban Nashville, and had gathered every Sunday in Frazier's basement to watch "The Walking Dead." They'd heard talk of a big day of filming in Senoia, the town south of Atlanta where much of the show is produced, so they got up before sunrise and made the trip to Georgia.

"It was our dream day," recalls Nordhoff, 42.

"We got to meet I think eight members of the cast," he recalls. "Somebody called us the `Walker Stalkers' when we were there."

The two decided to develop a podcast that has become popular with fans of the show. The podcast features discussions of many aspects of the show's storyline and interviews with people behind the scenes, such as special effects makeup expert and show producer Greg Nicotero.

In April, Nordhoff and Frazier came up with the idea of holding the convention, which will take place Nov. 1-3.

The show has also inspired one of its actors to stage a one-man play.

Robert "IronE" Singleton, who played "T-Dog" in the first three seasons of the show, will portray 18 characters in "Blindsided by the Walking Dead," which tells the story of how he grew up in the Perry Homes housing project during Atlanta's crack cocaine epidemic before he found work as an actor.

A key scene of "The Walking Dead" was filmed on a downtown Atlanta rooftop just a few miles from the project, where violence was ever-present during Singleton's childhood and teenage years.

"Blindsided by the Walking Dead" is a work of drama, comedy, dance, spoken word and rap. Its characters include a thug, a crack addict, Richard III from Shakespeare, God and Singleton's deceased mother.

"I think it could inspire people and save lives," said the 38-year-old actor, who also will take part in a panel discussion during the convention.

"It's about embracing truth and love through everything you do."

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