SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of May 25’s Mad Men Season 7 midseason finale.
If you thought Matthew Weiner was going to let a teaser or spoiler slip for the upcoming final episodes of Mad Men next year, think again. “Can’t tell you that, you got to watch” is all the creator of AMC’s acclaimed series has to say on that front. “You’ll have to see how we bring it all together,” the reticent producer adds. “We don’t want to punch them in the face,“ says Weiner of Mad Men fans’ expectations for the end of the show. “We want them to walk away changed or better or at least entertained by it. That’s all I can say.” Speaking to Deadline the day after the Season 7 midseason finale of Mad Men aired, Weiner will say though that when the show is done in 2015, it’s truly over. “Yeah, that’s it. That’s it,” he admits, briskly putting to rest any idea of Sterling Cooper & Partners sequel or spinoffs. “I love that people are trying to project and guess what the storytelling is. I’m writing the finale today as I was yesterday and it’s set in stone.”
Related: AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ Midseason Finale Gets 1.9M Viewers
What’s not set in stone is Weiner’s heart about Mad Men reaching the end of the first 7 episodes of its seventh season. “You know what, I’m a little sad as I always am when the show goes off the air,” the multiple Emmy winner admits about reaching the halfway point to the end with the May 25 broadcast and the wait until the show returns next spring for its last 7 episodes. As every Mad Men finale has been, the midseason Season 7 ender of the series that launched the AMC Original Series brand was co-written and directed by Weiner.
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AMC is officially jumping on the social media bandwagon. Starting today, the premiere episode of its new drama Halt And Catch Fire will be available for two weeks on Tumblr, running through May 31, ahead of its June 1 debut on the AMC network. It’s the first-ever TV series on Tumblr and the first time AMC has partnered with a social media platform to premiere a new show. Starring Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, Kerry Bishé and Toby Huss, Halt And Catch Fire captures the rise of the PC era in the early 1980s.
EXCLUSIVE: If you’re driving around LA today don’t be surprised to see Breaking Bad’s Walter White staring down at you. With a print campaign to follow next month, AMC is putting up Emmy consideration billboards in several locations around the city to remind voters that the now-completed show is still eligible to repeat its Best Drama series win last year. Breaking Bad’s final fifth season aired in a now-trendy two parts, which means it is, as the campaign says, “over but not done” when it comes to getting more Emmy love. The first part of Season 5 ran from July 15-September 2, 2012 and won the show’s first-ever Outstanding Drama Series Emmy. It is now the final eight episodes that ran from August 8-September 29, 2013 that are potential contenders with TV Academy voters. Reaching what felt like a hysteria heading into its record-breaking finale, Season 5B averaged 8.6 million viewers with 5.7 million adults 18-49. Not that AMC or producer Sony TV are done with things Breaking Bad – prequel spinoff Better Call Saul is coming this fall.
It’s not quite the blood and gore of the zombie apocalypse, but today the legal battle between AMC and original The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA got more a lot more biting. “Doubling down on their ill-conceived theory of the case, Plaintiffs now seek to use discovery to conduct a fishing expedition through the files of Defendants, a television network, two television studios, and a parent company, to obtain access to highly sensitive proprietary and confidential information that bears no relevance to Plaintiffs’ claims, including highly confidential and proprietary information relating to television shows other than the one at issue, The Walking Dead,” said AMC today in a scathing letter (read it here) to a NY Supreme Court judge. The letter is the latest salvo in the on-going case first filed by Darabont and CAA in a December 17 complaint. The plaintiffs allege that they were scammed out of contractually assured profits from the blockbuster series and that AMC played a “self-dealing” artificially low license-fee shell game with the show based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels. AMC, of course, says that’s not the case.
Related: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5: First-Look Photo
Of course, all that could become irrelevant or at least secondary very soon. “Contracts are not screenplays,” said AMC’s attorney Marc E. Kasowitz with some rhetorical flourish in this most recent letter. “The law does not permit them to be unilaterally rewritten simply because one party dislikes the ending. Yet, that is precisely what Plaintiffs seek in this action.” Once again rejecting Darabont and CAA’s contentions of self-dealing and low license fees in their original complaint last year, the cable station also revealed to no great surprise that they plan to file a motion for summary judgment for liability soon. AMC also let slip that they paid Darabont “close to $3 million” for his work on WD Seasons 1 & 2 before canning him from the show he developed back in late July 2011.
Related: AMC Greenlights Three Unscripted Series, Including Chris Hardwick’s ‘Celebrity Bowling’
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AMC is expanding its unscripted slate with three new series, All-Star Celebrity Bowling, Visionaries (working title) and the Untitled Billy Corgan Wrestling Project, all slated to premiere next year. AMC has ordered eight half-hour episodes of All-Star Celebrity Bowling, adapted from Chris Hardwick’s hit web series. Hosted by twin brothers Randy and Jason Sklar, the talk/game show hybrid features two new celebrity casts from the worlds of TV, movies, sports, music and pop culture who each week face off in a bowling match for charity. Jon Hamm and the cast of Mad Men face off against Chris Hardwick and his Nerdist team in the pilot. All Star Celebrity Bowling is produced by High Noon Entertainment, with Hardwick exec producing along with Jim Berger and Patrick Jager from High Noon. The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan stars in the Untitled Billy Corgan Wrestling Project. The eight-episode hourlong series follows Corgan in his latest undertaking as creative director of Resistance Pro, a Chicago-based wrestling league. Corgan goes behind the scenes of this fascinating world, from creating storylines to choreographing fights to managing intense post-match locker room arguments, revealing that the most dramatic stories often take place outside of the ring. Series is produced by Left/Right (Small Town Security, This American Life, Mob Wives) and executive produced by Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver, Billy Corgan, and Ghen Maynard. AMC has ordered six half-hour episodes of Visionaries (working title), which follows the employees of Vision … Read More »
Check out this first-look photo from The Walking Dead Season 5 released today by AMC, featuring a cautious-looking and bloody sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). The zombie drama hit another season finale ratings record last month, delivering 15.7 million viewers and 10.2 million Adults 18-49. It returns this October on AMC.
It’s spring again, time for an AMC’s annual tradition of meetings with the writers/producers of the scripts the network brass had identified as the strongest pilot contenders. The pilot script showcase, nicknamed by agents and producers a “bake-off,” includes a series of presentations, in which the principals of the selected projects lay out for top AMC execs their vision for their show beyond the pilot with the help of visual aids, including demo reels. The network would not comment, though I hear at least five drama scripts are being spotlighted. That includes the Scott Free-produced World War II drama Raiders, which also made the cut for the script showcase last year, three projects from AMC’s March 2013 development slate: Ashland, White City and the Dahvi Waller Project, as well as one drama from the network’s recent March 2014 development slate, The Sparrow. Of last year’s three scripts, one – Line Of Sight, from Brotherhood creator Blake Masters — went to pilot. Three of the six scripts from the 2012 showcase went to pilot and then series, Chris Mundy‘s Low Winter Sun, Craig Silverstein and Mitchell Akselrad‘s Turn, and Richard LaGravenese-Tony Goldwyn‘s The Divide (now at WE tv). Other AMC series to come out of the script showcase in previous years include The Killing and Hell On Wheels. Here are descriptions of the projects I hear are competing for pilot orders this year: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Patrick Fabian (The Last Exorcism), Rhea Seehorn (Franklin & Bash) and Michael Mando (Orphan Black) have joined the cast of AMC’s upcoming series Better Call Saul, joining Breaking Bad alums Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks and fellow new cast member Michael McKean. The prequel to the Emmy-winning Breaking Bad, from Sony TV, centers on Odenkirk‘s unflappable criminal lawyer Saul Goodman before he became Walter White’s lawyer. Banks reprises his role as Saul’s trusted private investigator/fixer Michael “Mike” Ehrmantraut. Details on the new Better Call Saul characters are sketchy and the network and studios are not commenting, but I hear Fabian, repped by The Kohner Agency and Don Spradlin, will play Burt, a Kennedy-type lawyer; Seehorn, repped by Randi Ross of Phoenix Artists and Untitled Entertainment, will play an attorney named Beth; and Mando will play Spanish-speaking career criminal Eddie.
Taking advantage of the lucrative UK TV tax credit, AMC is the latest U.S. network to head to London to make a pilot. Film London, the body that promotes shooting in the British capital, confirmed today that the AMC Studios-produced Knifeman will follow in the footsteps of Fox’s 24: Live Another Day which recently shot there. The six month 24 shoot generated about £37M worth of local production spend and helped up the city’s profile as a TV production center. Knifeman is inspired by the biography of John Hunter by Wendy Moore, The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching And The Birth Of Modern Surgery. It’s set in 18th Century London and centers on a charming, arrogant surgeon who robs graves and harvests organs. The pilot was written by Rolin Jones (Low Winter Sun) and developed by Jones and Ron Fitzgerald (Friday Night Lights), both of whom will serve as executive producers. Media Rights Capital (House Of Cards), Josh Donnen and Robert Zotnowski are also executive producers. Craig Zisk recently stepped in to direct after Brian Percival pulled out for personal reasons.
The tax credit, which has also lured ABC pilot Galavant and Disney Channel’s multi-part movie Evermoor, is one of the factors which has helped to double filming in London. The film tax credit, which was recently expanded, has also lately helped to attract such features as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Night At The Museum 3, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Edge Of Tomorrow and Jupiter Ascending. Read More »
AMC Studios is looking for a new director to helm AMC drama pilot Knifeman after The Book Thief director Brian Percival, tapped for the job in March, had to pull out for personal reasons. Based on Wendy Moore’s John Hunter biography The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching And The Birth Of Modern Surgery, Knifeman centers on a charming, arrogant surgeon who robs graves and harvests organs in 18th century London. Rolin Jones wrote the pilot, which he developed with Ron Fitzgerald; both exec produce. Percival won an Emmy for directing the pilot episode of hit period British drama Downton Abbey.
Count Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan among the long list of people who believe that this is a golden age for television. “If Dickens were alive today he’d probably be a showrunner,” the AMC chief said in a panel at The Cable Show. Weiner credits HBO’s The Sopranos, where he was a writer, for helping to establish television as a home for art as well as commerce. “There’s not one thing [in the show] that would pass a focus group, and it’s a billion dollar business.” That helped to interest AMC in Weiner’s Mad Men. “The word ‘Sopranos‘ was bigger on our first poster than anything else,” he says. Weiner wrote the pilot 14 years ago and the experience since then “has been life altering in every way….I got to grow up as [lead character Don Draper] has grown up.” Weiner praised AMC for taking a risk on his show, and others. “Breaking Bad and Mad Men have nothing in common. Why are they doing them? Because they’re both good. That’s an interesting strategy.”
Jake Weber (Medium, Dawn Of The Dead) has landed a series regular role on AMC‘s drama series Hell On Wheels, from Entertainment One, Endemol USA and Nomadic Pictures. Weber, repped by Paradigm and Framework, will play Harlan Fell, a former military doctor in the Union Army, sent West by Ulysses S. Grant. A respectable-seeming guy, Fell dreams of parlaying his medical degree into an empire, and will stop at nothing to get it. Weber recently completed a three-episode arc on Fox’s The Following. His feature credits include White House Down and The Haunting Of Molly Hartley. Hell On Wheels returns this summer for an expanded 13-episode fourth season. Read More »
In her new role, Kristin Jones will focus on identifying potential international scripted projects, including co-productions, format adaptations, series and limited-series acquisitions, AMC said today. She’s responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with broadcasters, cable networks and producers in all territories outside of the U.S. to bring projects to the network. “We couldn’t be more excited about working with Kristin to identify compelling international content that is right for AMC,” said Joel Stillerman, AMC’s EVP of original programming, production and digital content. “Domestic TV viewers have become intimately aware over the last several years that good ideas and content can come from anywhere in the world, and we plan to aggressively seek out and pursue these opportunities, with Kristin solely focused on driving our efforts.” Read More »
AMC threw a Hollywood premiere Wednesday night to kick off what was termed “the beginning of the end.” AMC president Charlie Collier, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner and cast and crew were at the Arclight Theatre for the “Time Zones” episode that begins the first half of Season 7 premiering April 13th. The season marks the final go-round of the landmark four-time Emmy-winning Best Drama Series. The protracted goodbye will be split between seven episodes this spring and the final final episodes in spring 2015.
It was all very bittersweet last night as production actually was just beginning on those even as the premiere was kicking off. In fact, executive producer Scott Hornbacher, who directed the “Time Zones” episode, was late to this party as he is also directing the first of those backend episodes. He told me later at the Chateau Marmont afterparty that it’s going to be tough to end it, pointing to several people in the room he described as “family,” people he saw every day. That was the general consensus I got from so many cast members and AMC execs who have been with this since Day 1. One exec told me he was 24 when he first saw the pilot script. He’s 35 now. Life goes on. And so does Mad Men – at least to the conclusion for this iconic group of characters. CAA’s Bryan Lourd was seated next to me (he reps Weiner) and told me he wouldn’t have missed this event — even though CAA is having its retreat this weekend at La Costa near San Diego and he had to postpone a run-thru there to 11 PM so he could make it down the 405 freeway after the screening. Read More »