Nellie Andreeva

RELATED: Matt Weiner: “These Are The Last Three Seasons Of ‘Mad Men’”

After some last minute saber-rattling over product placement, episode duration, possible cast cuts and the show’s return date, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner has come to an agreement with AMC and Lionsgate TV for a new three-year mega deal said to be in the $25M-$30M range. With Weiner locked in, AMC has picked up the show for two more seasons, Season 5 and Season 6, with a seventh season almost a given now that Weiner is signed for it.

In his quote in the official announcement of the deal (press release below), Weiner said, “I want to thank AMC and Lionsgate for agreeing to support the artistic freedom of myself, the cast and the crew so that we can continue to make the show exactly as we have from the beginning.” Word is he was able to get resolution from the network and the studio on the issues he had had a problem with. That included shortening the running time of the show, introducing product placement, cutting regular cast members and pushing the Season 5 premiere date to 2012. For example, AMC had been looking to cut the series’ running time from 47 to 45 minutes per episode to accommodate more commercials. In the upcoming 13-episode fifth season, the season premiere and finale will be 47 minutes, while Weiner has the option to deliver the other 11 episodes in two versions: a 45-minute one to air on AMC, and a 47-minute one to run on other platforms, including VOD. On adding product placement on the Emmy-winning drama, I hear AMC will go ahead with its plan, but introducing brands will be done only when deemed organic to the story, with Weiner having complete creative control. As for possible cast cuts, there won’t be any. There had been speculation about a request from Lionsgate for a budget cut. Some say that request has gone away at the last minute while others insist that it was more of a request for Weiner to stay on budget. Word is Weiner has often incurred overages on the show, whose production budget is said to be $2.5 million per episode. One thing that is staying as is Mad Men‘s return date. Weiner had been pushing for a 2011 premiere date for Season 5. His protracted negotiations had made it impossible for the show to keep its original summer season premiere berth.) That that won’t happen, and the show will return with originals in early 2012 as recently announced by AMC. But Weiner’s deal and the series’ pickup pave the way for the much-delayed Season 5 of Mad Men to finally go into production in July. And AMC gets to keep the series that seemingly overnight made it an original programming powerhouse and and earned it 3 consecutive best drama series Emmy Awards. Here is the joint AMC/Lionsgate release:

New York – March 31, 2011 – AMC and Lionsgate today announced the return of the iconic series “Mad Men” for seasons five and six with series creator Matthew Weiner back on board as showrunner.  Concurrently, it was announced that Weiner has signed a new long-term deal with Lionsgate, extending into a possible seventh season.  The announcements were made by Charlie Collier, president of AMC, and Kevin Beggs, president of Lionsgate Television Group.

When AMC debuted “Mad Men” in July 2007 it quickly became one of the most talked about series on television. Set in 1960s New York, “Mad Men” is a sexy and provocative original drama that follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising. Produced by Lionsgate, “Mad Men” has made television history as the only cable series to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama and the Golden Globe for Best Television Series-Drama for three consecutive years.

“I want to thank all of our wonderful fans for their support.” said Weiner. “I also want to thank AMC and Lionsgate for agreeing to support the artistic freedom of myself, the cast and the crew so that we can continue to make the show exactly as we have from the beginning.  I’m excited to get started on the next chapter of our story.”

“AMC’s original programming began with a mission to create bold storytelling of the highest quality, and ‘Mad Men’ was the perfect expression of that commitment. We’ve been proud to support this show from the day we read Matt’s ground-breaking pilot script and have loved building it with Matt and Lionsgate into the cultural phenomenon it has become,” said Collier. “For everyone involved in the show and its passionate fans, we are thrilled to announce that the series will continue on AMC under the exceptional vision of Matt Weiner.”

“We are proud to continue our successful relationships with AMC and the brilliantly talented Matt Weiner, whose vision has created one of the most distinguished series on television,” said Beggs. “We also appreciate the passion and patience of ‘Mad Men’ fans around the world who have been awaiting this good news, and we believe they will be rewarded with many more seasons of this extraordinary and groundbreaking series.”

Mad Men’s award-winning ensemble cast includes: Golden Globe-winner Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jared Harris, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Robert Morse and Kiernan Shipka.

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