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. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: What did Hawaii look like in the late 1960s? We’ll get a glimpse in the Season 6 premiere of AMC’s Mad Men. I’ve learned that the New York-set drama series is headed for a secretive two-day shoot on the islands. Sources say it will involve actors Jon Hamm and Jessica Pare, who play husband and wife Don and Megan Draper on the ad agency show. The two, joined by a very small crew, are expected to leave Sunday. As usual, Mad Men mastermind Matt Weiner is keeping things close to the vest, but I hear that the scenes will be part of Mad Men‘s sixth-season premiere. I hear Weiner and fellow Mad Men executive producer Scott Hornbacher did location scouting in Hawaii in late September. There is speculation that the scouting trip had not been authorized by Lionsgate TV, which produces the Emmy-winning drama, and that the studio may have initially objected to the shoot. Weiner and Lionsgate have long tussled over the budget for the series, which I hear has been substantially increased going into Season 6.
Season 5 of Mad Men ended with Hamm’s Don Draper sitting alone at a bar after helping Megan book an acting job with his connections — helping her advance in a career that has strained their relationship. A woman approaches him asking if he is alone, and the scene ends with him pondering … Read More »
If they don’t always get all the credit they deserve or a lot of time on the Emmy show itself, this year’s nominated writers in five different categories got a lot of love and all the time they wanted to make a speech while accepting official certificates of nomination at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Thursday night.
Writing Governors Kirk Ellis and Margaret Nagle along with The Writers branch Peer Group Executive Committee threw a lively and loose pre-Emmy celebration of all things written for TV this year with a very well-attended cocktail party (nicely coordinated by the Academy’s Barbara Chase) plus formal presentation in the Academy’s massive Leonard Goldenson Theatre hosted by Breaking Bad’s 3-time Emmy winner and 2012 nominee Bryan Cranston. Clips of all the nominated achievements were shown followed by a ceremony in which stars of those shows gave Emmy certificates to their writers.
“Everybody says it all starts with a script but in this hall we really believe that,” said Ellis in getting the evening rolling. Then in introducing Cranston, Nagle pointed out the close relationship between actors and their writers by saying, “In interview after interview he always states his admiration for writers and he means it”. Pointedly referencing Clint Eastwood’s rambling, improvised appearance at the GOP convention Cranston entered carrying an empty chair which he put beside the podium. “Was there ever … Read More »
Mad Men scored big in last night’s ratings race, gaining its biggest season-finale number and finishing its fifth season as the most-watched ever. But it also scored big at the TV Academy on Sunday night, when 150 members and their guests had to be turned away for an event that featured the screening of the final episode and a Q&A with creator Matt Weiner and cast members. At least those 150 who didn’t get in didn’t go away empty-handed: Organizers gave them a jar of “Mad Men Olives” (the kind that go so well with those three-martini lunches) that was the parting gift for members of the audience. One woman, apparently confusing the Academy with Whole Foods Market, said she didn’t like olives and was wondering if she could exchange them for pickles.
Weiner, who flew in for the day from the North Carolina location of his feature directorial debut You Are Here and flew back right after the reception, had not wanted to screen the Season 5 finale in advance of its airing Sunday night but agreed it could be shown at this AMC-produced special event for Emmy voters (but not officially sanctioned by the Academy) two hours before airing on the East Coast. It was followed by the Q&A that also featured cast members Christina Hendricks, January Jones, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Jessica Pare, and Kiernan Shipka. Series star Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and Jared Harris were advertised but all were said to be stuck overseas filming and didn’t make it. Read More »
Laura Ramsey has been added to the cast of You Are Here, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s feature directorial debut, set to start production in May 2012 in North Carolina. The film, written and to be directed by Weiner also stars Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, and Amy Poehler.Ramsey will play a young beautiful widow and love interest to the role played by Wilson. Ramsey previously appeared in Middle Men and The Ruins. She is repped by CAA and management company KLWGN. Her attorney is Craig Emanuel at Loeb & Loeb.”I have been a huge fan of Laura’s for a while and she is a great addition to an already amazing group of actors,” said Weiner.Gary Gilbert, Scott Hornbacher, Jordan Horowitz, and Matthew Weiner will produce the film. Lionsgate is handling international sales. CAA represents the domestic rights.
When we began our interview, I asked Matt Weiner, “So all those Emmys aren’t good enough? You’re going for the Oscar now?” He laughed and said, “I don’t expect to enter at that level but I’m getting to make something really important to me. So I’m really excited.” As previously reported, the multiple Emmy winner (7 for Mad Men and 2 for The Sopranos) who created AMC’s much-lauded Mad Men is using his down time from the show to jump into the perilous waters of indie filmmaking as director and writer of a longtime pet project, You Are Here. Now in its fifth season, Weiner only finished up the new season of Mad Men two weeks ago but has already arrived in North Carolina this week to begin pre-production and expects to start the two-month shoot on May 7th. The comedy stars Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler in a story of two childhood best friends who embark on a road trip home after one of them discovers his estranged father has died.
Weiner has been trying to launch You Are Here for 8 years, “I’ve re-written it a few times, I haven’t been available for part of the time, and the rest of it is just how hard it is to get a movie made. Especially an adult movie, one that doesn’t have a high concept, ” he says. ”I tried to get it together during other off-seasons and just hadn’t been … Read More »
Matt Weiner wrote and will make his feature directing debut on Gilbert Films’ You Are Here, a road-trip movie starring Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis that begins shooting in May in North Carolina. Amy Poehler is in negotiations to co-star. Weiner, who has directed several episodes of his Emmy-winning Mad Men, will fit this in between seasons of the AMC drama, which returned Sunday after a long absence to record ratings for its Season 5 premiere. “This movie has been my passion for eight years and to see it come together with Owen and Zach and Amy is a dream come true,” Weiner said in a release announcing the film. “I can’t wait to get started because the movie is about everything I care about and I’m tired of reading it out loud to my friends.” In You Are Here, a local weatherman and freewheeling bachelor (Wilson) and bi-polar man-child Ben (Galifianakis) are childhood best friends who embark on a road trip home after Ben discovers his estranged father has passed away. Once there, Ben learns his eccentric father had big plans for him and he’s inherited a whole lot more than his father’s money. As Ben struggles with his new responsibilities, his friendship with Steve is tested by the complications of his inheritance, his sister’s ambition, and Steve’s desire to be with his father’s beautiful young widow. Poehler will play the sister. Gary … Read More »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Two weeks before the premiere of Mad Men’s delayed fifth season, series creator Matthew Weiner is already looking ahead to the series’ seventh and likely final season. “I think the plan is for (Mad Men to run for) seven years,” Weiner said tonight at a PaleyFest panel. “Seven years sounds like the right amount…My whole thing is, I don’t want to overstay our welcome. And it’s really hard.” Weiner used his experience working on HBO’s acclaimed series The Sopranos as an example of what he doesn’t want to happen on Mad Men. “I was with The Sopranos the last three seasons of the show, and what happens is you just start running into the places where you’ve been over and over again and it just becomes impossible,” he said. While he confessed that he hasn’t mapped out the remaining seasons of the show because he isn’t sure what they will be about, Weiner confirmed that he knows “exactly how everything’s going to end.” He didn’t elaborate but had been quoted previously saying that he wants to wrap the series in present day with Don Draper as an old man.
The PaleyFest event featured a healthy collection of Mad Men cast members, headed by star Jon Hamm and also including January Jones, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Robert Morse and others, who became the object of jabs by Weiner. (Elisabeth Moss … Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s 2011 Emmy coverage. Here’s his scorecard assessing the Outstanding Drama Series Writer race.
Matthew Weiner, Mad Men (AMC)
Why He Was Nominated: What, are you kidding? Weiner has been nominated for 18 of these things and come out on top eight times, including winning both as producer and writer for Mad Men the last three years running. He also took the prize as a producer for a little show called The Sopranos in both 2004 and 2007. The fact that Weiner has personally earned 10 nominations for Mad Men during the past three years alone is a bit astonishing, particularly when you consider that AMC wasn’t on the Emmy map at all until Weiner arrived.
Why He Has To Win: It would take almost an act of God to keep Weiner from taking both the series and writing trophies for a fourth consecutive year, in part because the Mad Men episode for which he’s nominated — “The Suitcase” — is considered both a tour de force for star Jon Hamm and one of the show’s best hours, period. And that’s saying something. The hour was essentially a writing showcase for Weiner and an acting workshop for Hamm and co-star Elisabeth Moss. Cue the bandwagon.
Why He Can’t Possibly Win: That Mad Men is nominated twice here has the possibility of splitting the vote. There’s also the school of thought that the late momentum for Friday Night Lights could carry Jason Katims (nominated for the series finale) to an upset victory. Or, you know, the sun may not rise tomorrow. Anything is possible. Read More »
Thursday night’s lively Emmy-nominee cocktail reception for the writers branch at the Television Academy was the 20th nightly peer group gathering taking place there during the past month, “an incredible pre-Emmy marathon,” said writers branch co-governor Margaret Nagle, who gave special mention to the Academy’s Barbara Chase for organizing each of the events.
The Academy transformed the interior lobby of the Goldenson Theatre into something that looked like a New Orleans bordello — “What better setting than to celebrate writing, the world’s true oldest profession,” said one wag – and there was an elaborate setup outside as well in the plaza area for nominated and non-nominated writers to network and talk business.
Midway through, guests and nominees were shepherded inside the massive 600-seat theater for a breezy clip reel showcasing all the noms from the five writing categories and then the presentation of nominee certificates presided over by the evening’s host, The Office‘s Kate Flannery. The event made everyone feel like a winner before Sunday night, when the majority of them will become “losers.” Read More »
There was no Kurt Sutter reaction to AMC’s renewal of Breaking Bad yesterday. That’s because the refreshingly uncensored Sons of Anarchy creator had just pulled the plug on his Twitter feed, days after he blamed the protracted negotiations for the Vince Gilligan-created Breaking Bad and the firing of The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont on Matt Weiner’s megadeal for Mad Men. “No one else wants to f**king say it, but the greed of Mad Men is killing the other two best shows on TV — Breaking Bad and Walking Dead,” Sutter wrote last week. “Why Darabont got fired — Weiner. He held AMC hostage, broke their bank, budgets were slashed, shit rolled down hill onto Gilligan and Frank. Those, along with the recent anti-TV Academy zingers, are now just a distant memory. Here is Sutter blog post on his exit from Twitter: Read More »
RELATED: ‘Breaking Bad’ Eyeing Two-Season Final Run
For a network that has only 5 shows on the air, AMC has been in the headlines with series-related issues an awful lot during the past 8 months, first over the difficult and very public negotiations with Mad Men creator Matt Weiner and more recently over the abrupt exit of The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and the ongoing negotiations for Breaking Bad. I caught up tonight with AMC president Charlie Collier who declined to discuss the specifics surrounding the Breaking Bad talks with producer Sony Pictures TV and Darabont’s departure but addressed several other issues that have been the subject of a lot of speculation, including rumored budget cuts on Walking Dead which some have linked to Darabont’s exit and reported AMC demands for a 6-8-episode fifth season of Breaking Bad.
Deadline: Did you cut the budget on The Walking Dead in Season 2?
Collier: If you look at pilot budgets vs. pattern budgets usually the pilot budget is much higher than what ends up being the pattern budget. With The Walking Dead, instead of doing a pilot, we went straight to 6 episodes because we believed in the team and the talent in front and behind the camera. Then we came back with a 13-episode second season, and amortization over 13 episodes is very different than over 6. But we settled into one of the highest pattern budgets for a basic cable series.
Deadline: So the overall budget for Season 2 is lower than the Season 1 because of the amortization factor?
Collier: We went straight to series, with the first season serving in many ways as a pilot, and then we have settled into a 13-episode pattern budget.
Deadline: Did AMC want to truncate season 5 of Breaking Bad?
Collier: There has been a lot reported about this negotiation, but we would never comment on an open negotiation in the press. There have been all sorts of scenarios about how to bring Breaking Bad back on our air, we proposed many scenarios not just one format. The truth is that we have productive negotiations with Sony in hopes of doing right by both companies and the fans of this great show. Read More »
His eponymous FX comedy may have been snubbed in the best comedy series category, but comedian Louis C.K. still managed to become the most nominated person at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards with four noms, sharing the honors with The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Louis C.K. was nominated in the lead comedy actor category for his role on FX’s Louie, in the writing for comedy series category for penning the Poker/Divorce episode of the show, as well as in two Variety, Music or Comedy special categories for his Epix comedy special Louis C.K.: Hilarious — for writing and for editing. Three of Schaffer and Taccone’s four nominations were in the Original Music and Lyrics category, in which The Lonely Island’s Schaffer, Taccone and Andy Samberg have a regular presence, often in tandem with Justin Timberlake, having won an Emmy together for Dick In a Box. This year, Saturday Night Live is completely dominating the category with four of the six nominations: three for Schaffer, Taccone and Samberg’s digital music videos I Just Have Sex, Jack Sparrow and their latest collaboration with Timberlake, 3-Way, and one for the song from host Timberlake’s opening monologue. Schaffer and Taccone’s fourth Emmy nomination is in the writing for VMC series category for their staff-writing duties on SNL. Read More »
Jon Hamm Locks Into ‘Mad Men’ For 3 More Years
Three-time Emmy contender Jon Hamm probably has a nomination in the bag this year. Combine Mad Men‘s “The Suitcase” episode’s unforgettable pas de deux between Don Draper and Peggy Olson with Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston’s ineligibility for a 2011 nod, and the (m)ad man’s portrayer might finally win. It would not only be his first Emmy, but the first for any performer on AMC’s hit Mad Men. Deadline’s sibling site TVLine has a terrific interview with Hamm here. I recently interviewed Matt Weiner about Mad Men‘s Emmy chances (upcoming) and the show’s creator and exec producer lobbied on Hamm’s behalf:
DEADLINE: You told Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond over a year ago that you thought this ‘Suitcase’ episode would be Jon Hamm’s ticket to Emmy — finally. One of the things that you did this past year in the series was to strip away all his veneer so he became the most vulnerable character. Was this at all self-conscious and on purpose to try and help him to Outstanding Lead Actor?
WEINER: Last season he had a great emotional depth. Jon is an incredible actor, but what he does is not very showy. I felt that this had more of the kind of performance where you could see all the range of what this man does in … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of Mad Men creator Matt Weiner closing a new $30 million deal for the show following one of the longest, most difficult showrunner renegotiations in recent TV history, Weiner is partying ways with his manager of 10 years, Industry Entertainment’s Keith Addis. Addis, along with CAA, which will continue to rep Weiner, was deeply involved in the recent talks with Mad Men producer Lionsgate TV and network AMC. “We had a great run — 10 years,” Addis said. “I was with him from the beginning and through the (Mad Men) negotiations. I think he is brilliant, and I’m proud to have been part of his career.” Both Weiner and Addis called the split amicable, and Weiner will not be taking in a new manager. “Keith has provided wonderful guidance throughout my career,” Weiner said. “While our business relationship is coming to an end, he is and will continue to be a close friend.”
“I’m thrilled,” a happy Matt Weiner said in a phone interview shortly after his new three-year $30 million deal for Mad Men was announced. He is going back to work tomorrow, the writers room will get up-and-running in 4-5 weeks, and production on the much-delayed Season 5 of the Emmy-winning AMC drama will start in July, the same month the fifth season was originally slated to premiere.
But the deal almost didn’t happen. “I walked away from it 4-5 times in the last few days,” said Weiner who had been objecting to several proposals made by series producer Lionsgate TV and network AMC, including shortening the episodes’ running time from 47 to 45 minutes to make room for more commercials, introducing more product placement, potentially reducing the number of regulars on the show and pushing Season 5′s premiere to March 2012. “It’s never been about money,” Weiner said. “I wanted to do the show I wanted to do and the show the audience has come to expect.”
Now, “the cast is safe from financial concerns” for all 3 seasons, Weiner said, adding that he reserves the right to cut actors “on creative basis.”
In terms of product placement, Weiner said that there will be no changes to the series’ existing policy. He noted that there have been only 3 instances of product placement in Mad Men‘s first four seasons. “I don’t want the audience to feel they are being sold on the … Read More »
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 … Read More »
UPDATE 11AM: The upcoming fifth season of Mad Men is now slated to debut in March 2012. That is 17 months from the series’ fourth season finale. While the protracted negotiations between Mad Men creator/ exec producer Matt Weiner and AMC/Lionsgate TV led to the acclaimed series’ pushed production start and, in turn, caused the show to miss its original July premiere date, the new March return date is not directly tied to the contract talks. According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, Weiner had been actually pushing for a shorter gap between Seasons 4 and 5 and had stated that he could get Season 5 produced and delivered on budget for a 2011 premiere. However, I hear AMC’s argument was that it has now 5 original series to accommodate and its next available slot for Mad Men was in March 2012. Mad Men was AMC’s first series, which put the cable network on the original programming map. Since then, AMC has successfully launched several other series, most recently The Walking Dead, which supplanted Mad Men as the network’s highest-rated show.
PREVIOUS 8AM: Despite not having a deal with Mad Men creator-executive producer Matt Weiner yet, AMC is officially moving ahead with a fifth season of the Emmy-winning period drama, exercising its option with the series’ producer Lionsgate TV. (The cable network made a similar move two years ago when, along with Lionsgate, it was again embroiled in difficult renegotiations … Read More »
Negotiations between Mad Men creator/executive producer Matt Weiner and AMC and Lionsgate Television seemed close enough to expect the cable network’s signature show to lock a fifth season in time for AMC’s April upfront meetings with advertisers.
But, with just few deal points outstanding in the proposed blockbuster deal — which would pay Weiner close to $30 million over three years — word is that talks are suddenly on the rocks. Though Weiner is poised to become the highest-paid showrunner on basic cable, we hear that he is objecting to three things AMC/Lionsgate are asking for: integrating product placement into the series, cutting 2 minutes from each episode’s running time in favor of more commercials and eliminating/reducing two regular cast members to save money. Weiner is resisting all of the above. “This is their storied franchise, and they want it shorter and cheaper, with fewer actors and more product integration,” an insider said. “The negotiations are about to collapse as a result.” Reps for Lionsgate and AMC claim negotiations with Weiner’s reps continue. The delay in closing a new deal with Weiner has already pushed the scheduled production start on Season 5 and will lead to the Emmy-winning period drama missing its target summer premiere date.
Weiner was in a similar standoff with AMC over extra 2 minutes of commercial load on the show 2 years ago. Ultimately, the two … Read More »