EXCLUSIVE: Costume designer Janie Bryant — best known for Mad Men and her Emmy-winning work on HBO’s Deadwood – is in development on a new design competition series with E.J. Johnston and James Deutch, co-creators of …
UPDATE, 1:40 PM: Mad Men‘s sixth-season finale posted 2.7 million viewers — on par with last season’s finale. The AMC period drama in its sixth season added an average of 2.1 million viewers within three days and an average of 2.4 million additional viewers within seven days of the live telecast through the first 10 episodes this season, the network said today. Over the season, the Mad Avenue drama averaged 2.5 million viewers and continues to rank as cable’s most upscale drama.
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.
Cinematography that stands out from the TV crowd is now about more than looking better than most other shows—it’s about getting a look that meets the high standards once reserved only for feature films. But with television schedules and budgets typically only a fraction of their big-screen counterparts, cinematographers on shows such as Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Good Wife and Vikings use every lighting and camera tool or trick at their disposal to deliver the goods. Digital technology and the popularity of cameras like the Alexa, which operates well in low-light conditions, have helped immensely, but it still takes creativity to find camera moves and lighting techniques that truly stand out.
Going back to basics has paid off for AMC’s Mad Men. Cinematographer Christopher Manley likes, whenever possible, to drop the second camera typically used to ensure closeups and coverage of every scene. “We set up A shots, and if the B shot can work without compromising either shot, then we’ll use it. Otherwise, we don’t,” he explains. The result is more medium shots, giving the closeups more impact and evoking a classic big-screen style. “Doing closeups a lot of the time in television is more about a holdover style from when TVs were much smaller and people were sitting in their living room looking at a 20-inch screen 8 feet away,” says Manley. “Nowadays, everybody has a large 16:9 television that dominates their living room, so I think it’s OK to go back to a more old-fashioned scale of using wider shots.”
Now it gets serious. Emmy ballots become active at 6 PM PT tonight for all 16,000+ active voting members of the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences and are due by snail mail to Academy accountants Ernst & Young by June 28 at 5 PM PT. Although, unlike the Oscars and other awards voting groups, there is no direct online voting option for the TV Acad yet (but certainly there will be one eventually), the list of eligible shows and individual achievements with corresponding numbers for the Scranton computer ballot can be accessed via a special Emmy web address or on old-fashioned paper if members request it. Trying to influence those members (full disclosure: I serve on the Academy’s Board Of Governors representing the Writers branch) just as voting gets underway are the Television Critics Association which (coincidentally?) announced their nominations today and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association which (coincidentally?) holds its awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton tonight. But even as these are well-timed events, the TV Academy generally has a mind of its own and often is much slower to embrace the newer, quirkier programs these groups tend to endorse in a big way.
But things are looking up and the Academy does seem to be responding to new blood. Last year Homeland in only its first season dethroned four-time champ Mad Men. Lena Dunham’s edgy Girls and FX’s Louie also made waves. On the other hand the very deserving Breaking Bad, a critical favorite, has yet to win a Drama Series Emmy even as it ends its run later this summer (though stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have won multiple times). Those final eight shows will be running just as the last phase of Emmy voting is taking place in August and could be a factor even though those episodes won’t be eligible until next year as cutoff was May 31. Last summer’s batch of eight is what voters will be assessing this year.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Tonight’s event honoring AMC’s Mad Men at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences headquarters in North Hollywood – organized by AMC and designed to generate some Emmy season heat for a drama perceived to be past its awards prime – was perhaps most noteworthy for who wasn’t in attendance rather than who was. First, the list of those castmates who couldn’t make it: Jon Hamm (shooting a movie in India), Alison Brie (shooting a film in Toronto), Vincent Kartheiser (rehearsing a play in Minnesota), Christina Hendricks (shooting a movie in Detroit), John Slattery (prepping a film in New York), Aaron Staton (shooting a film “out of town”) and Rich Sommer (featured in a play in New York). While they still have air travel in every area where the seven no-shows were stationed, it’s perhaps understandable that they wouldn’t rush back to stump for more Emmy attention.
Cable Ratings: HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ Hits Another High, ‘Mad Men’ Up Slightly, ‘Jerseylicious’ Finale Up
Jon Snow and Ygritte are climbing the wall and they are picking up more viewers on Game Of Thrones. The 9 PM broadcast of the HBO fantasy drama Sunday pulled in 5.5 million viewers. With the Wildlings at the base of the wall that protects the Seven Kingdoms, that’s a new series high for Thrones for a fourth week in a row in its third season. The series drew 5.3 million viewers the week before. The show’s viewership across two plays on Sunday also hit a new gross audience nightly high with 6.8 million viewers.
Elsewhere in the cable universe, AMC’s Mad Men didn’t break any records this week but it was up a bit over its April 28 episode. The period drama had 2.4 million viewers on Sunday, with 1.103 million in the adults 18-49 demo. That’s a 3% gain in viewers and 6% in the demo compared with the week before. Mad Men returned for its sixth season April 7 with its second-most-watched episode ever with 3.4 million viewers.
Listen to (and share) episode 18 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Our awards columnist and host David Bloom discuss Hollywood in the age of conglomerates; TV with a conscience and this week’s notable films, including The Croods, Olympus Has Fallen, Admission and Starbuck. Pete also talks about Mad Men, whose Season 6 premiere party he attended, what to expect from this season, and what the show’s Emmy prospects this year might be.
Premiering its two-hour sixth season opener at the DGA theatre in Hollywood on Wednesday night, AMC and Lionsgate’s four-time Best Drama Series Emmy winner Mad Men threw its hat in the ring to retake that Emmy which it lost for the first time last year to Showtime’s newcomer Homeland. The new season, which debuts on April 7th, opens with Don Draper and wife Megan on Christmas vacation on the beaches of Waikiki and promises more of the same kind of intrigue and incremental character development for which it is known. But creator Matt Weiner, who obviously wants to keep viewers guessing, warned the packed industry crowd not to give anything away before the show actually airs. In fact, in the elaborate press kit sent to critics, Weiner is even more specific about keeping the first episode’s secrets intact with a non-reveal list that includes the year the season begins, status of Don and Megan’s relationship, whether the agency has expanded to an additional floor, new characters, and new relationships or partnerships. That doesn’t leave much to tell except to say each of the characters is thrust into interesting new areas and the actors are all at the top of their games (Jon Hamm even has to pull off a mysterious 8-minute stretch where he doesn’t utter a word). It just continues to be a bafflement as to why not a single actor on the show has ever won an Emmy in the five years it has been on. Will that change as Season 6 takes off and plays right through the Emmy nomination voting period?
There are just two episodes left to film before the order of 13 wraps and the cast scatters to other gigs. Hamm told me that right after he finishes he is headed to India to start a new baseball film, Million Dollar Arm, to be directed by Craig Gillespie (Lars And The Real Girl) in which he plays an agent who recruits Asian cricket players to switch to the major leagues. He particularly liked getting to take Don Draper to Hawaii this time around, and the character clearly promises to be travelling to other new internal places as well based on the first two hours. Christina Hendricks, Robert Morse, Jessica Pare, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery (who has some big scenes in the show) were among the Mad Men cast who turned up for the crowded party at Sunset Towers following the screening along with Weiner, producer Scott Hornbacher (who directed the premiere) and AMC president Charlie Collier, who told me he was proud of the way Mad Men is able to keep fresh and inventive.
Mad Men executive producers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton are leaving the Emmy-winning series after six seasons to sign an overall deal with Warner Bros Television. Under the pact, the duo will develop cable series via Warner Horizon Television, as well as for broadcast through Warner Bros TV. The deal starts May 1, after production of Mad Men’s upcoming sixth season is completed.
The season will start with a two-hour movie written by Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and directed by Scott Hornbacher that will air at 9 PM, AMC announced this morning. Series star Jon Hamm will direct the season’s second episode a week later as it settles into its regular 10 PM time slot. When last we left Hamm’s Don Draper and company, the firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was still recovering from Lane Pryce’s suicide, Peggy Olson had joined a rival agency, Roger Sterling was all tripped out and Don was sitting on the sidelines of wife Megan’s first big break — and contemplating a proposition by two pretty young things (or was he?). Weiner, speaking to The New York Times, would not be led as to just where the story will pick up April 7. “It will advance in time, as it does… I can’t say how much or how little. We’re coming off a period in Don’s life where he’s trying to normalize, and trying to have this relationship — a real relationship with this woman that he fell in love with. She expressed her desires and that was a surprise for him. On this show, it’s a very rich, full orchestra, and we like to follow what is the next stage in these people’s lives.”
EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a hot signing before the biz goes away for the holidays. CAA has just signed Jon Hamm, the Mad Men star who recently left ICM Partners early last month following the exit of his longtime agent Carol Bodie. Hamm had taken meetings with a few of the agencies — WME was the other major player — but he’s headed for CAA. Hamm should have a bright future in features. Like Alec Baldwin, he can play comedy as well as drama, and has done several inspired turns on Saturday Night Live and in the film Bridesmaids. He played serious in the Ben Affleck-directed The Town, and those blue-chinned guys like Hamm also work well in macho franchises.