'The Walking Dead': Season 3 grows to 16 episodes; adds 2 new writers

twd-midseason-poster.jpgThe third season of "The Walking Dead" -- AMC's runaway zombie-pocalypse drama -- will grow to 16 episodes. The news came on Saturday (Jan. 14) at the Television Critics Association press tour.

This marks another big growth spurt for the series. Season 1 was a slim six episodes. Season two grew to 13 episodes, a seven episode fall season and a six episode midseason re-start that launches on Feb 12. Season 3 is expected to launch in fall 2012.

Co-executive Gale Anne Hurd tells zap2it that the season 3 writers room opens next week with the addition of two new writers: Nichole Beattie ("Rubicon," "John from Cincinnati") and Sang Kim ("Crash," "Hawthorne").

The show continues to score solid ratings despite a management shake-up during season 2. Co-creator and showrunner Frank Darabont abruptly left the series in July 2011 just three days after promoting it at Comic-Con. Writer Glen Mazzara ("Hawthorne," "Crash") took over with comic book creator Robert Kirkman continuing as an executive producer.

Update: Season 3 will in fact be split, according to AMC's Joel Stillerman.

Photo/Video credit: AMC