AMC says Season 4 of its zombie drama "The Walking Dead" is to begin production in Atlanta this May with writer-producer Scott M. Gimple at the helm.

The cast and crew are to begin work May 6 on the 16-episode next season, the cable network said Wednesday.

Although Gimple has long been rumored to be taking over for previous showrunner Glen Mazzara, this is the first time AMC confirmed his hiring.

Mazzara left the show during Season 3 due to creative differences with the network.

"Scott has been an essential part of this show since he came aboard [as a writer] at the very beginning of Season 2. He's contributed to guiding this show in a substantial way that has resulted in a lot of the key scenes and story lines fans have dubbed signature moments of 'The Walking Dead,'" said Robert Kirkman, creator of "The Walking Dead" comic books and an executive producer on the show. "I am thrilled to begin work on a brand new season of 'The Walking Dead' with Scott at the helm, and I truly believe we could be embarking on what will be the best season of this show yet."

"I'm thrilled to continue the tradition of the spectacular, cinematic, horrifying, exciting and emotional storytelling of 'The Walking Dead,'" said Gimple. "I'm a huge fan of the comics, and started with the show on the other side of the set, as an avid viewer. Over the past two years, it's been an incredible privilege making such great television with the best cast and crew I've ever worked with -- I can't wait to make some more."

The drama series stars Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln as the leaders of a group of survivors trying to avoid being eaten by the ever-growing population of zombies in contemporary Georgia.