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'Mad Men' audience grows, but Don Draper would be disappointed

July 26, 2010 |  2:21 pm

DRAPER

About 2.9 million people tuned into to the premiere of season four of AMC's "Mad Men" on Sunday night to see Don Draper struggle to answer the question "Who is Don Draper?"

Although that number is a record for an episode of "Mad Men," it is an increase of only about 130,000 viewers from the Season 3 debut. Given the heavy hype for the show, that seems a little soft. However, "Mad Men" also picks up a lot of viewers who record the series and watch it later, so a clearer picture of its audience size won't emerge from Nielsen until later in the week. 

The numbers, while lesser than AMC might have hoped, are still strong enough to become fodder for negotiations between the cable network and Lions Gate, which produces the show. The current deal for "Mad Men" is up at the end of next season, but Lions Gate wants to wrap up an extension sooner rather than later, according to Variety.

One reason Lions Gate wants AMC to pony up big bucks for "Mad Men" now is that its own deal with creator Matt Weiner expires at the end of this season, per Variety. If that seems unusual, that's because it is unusual. Typically, a showrunner such as Weiner would be attached to the program for five seasons. However, it appears Weiner had a much shorter deal, which will give him a lot of leverage with Lions Gate.

As for who Don Draper is? Apparently he's someone who likes to be slapped around by escorts and knows how to sew a button.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: "Mad Men" stars Jon Hamm as advertising ace Don Draper. Credit: AMC

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