TCA Press Tour: Chasing Jon Hamm
"Have you seen Jon Hamm?" That was the million-dollar question at the AMC press-tour party last night. We knew the twice-Emmy-nominated "Mad Men" leading man was, in fact, present because we'd gone downstairs near the hotel pool and spotted him in a pre-party staging area where he and the rest of the cast of the Emmy-winning "Mad Men" and the Emmy-nominated "Breaking Bad" were being held by their "people" as they waited to mingle with the press. But nobody would believe us.
An hour or so into the festivities, many of Hamm's costars, including the gorgeous-in-green Christina Hendricks, the beautiful January Jones and handsome John Slattery, were enjoying cocktails and taking questions from reporters while the man who plays Don Draper was nowhere to be found. It's important to mention that on the terrace, too, was the brilliant cast of "Breaking Bad," including Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston, sporting layers and highlights, Aaron Paul, and Anna Gunn in a sexy black dress, all talking up a storm with reporters. (Cranston even knew several of them by name.)
The event to celebrate the beginning of the press tour also marked a historic time in AMC history, the basic cable network that has for two years in a row landed more Emmy nominations than any of its competitors. In other words, there was a lot to brag about.
But in these circles, it was all about the Hamm. And Hamm was nowhere to be found for half of the party. When he showed up, clean shaven and debonair, cocktail in hand, he graciously began chatting with reporters. Soon, we were wondering if perhaps he'd been held by the pool bar too long, if you know what we mean.
"If I can be so bold ... AMC doesn't have a track record," he said, replying to a question about whether AMC is a basic-cable pioneer. "They're coming as blind as anybody else. And they came in at it as, 'We would like to make a television show that tells a really great story.' And that's actually the way to determine how to make a television show as opposed to, 'We would like to make a television show that makes a lot of money.' I think we're seeing not the greatest way to do television unless you like Fat Dance Camp or whatever is on NBC at 8 p.m."
A reporter followed up with an observation about "Mad Men" reflecting the classy '60s. Hamm had plenty to say about that.
"Buddy, I don't know if they had class back then. I can send you a couple of links of stuff where guys are berating their wives for making their coffee badly. What I think happened in the '60s is I think irony happened. And the idea of selling non-earnestly became cool. And obviously that's not a mistake that that's when the baby boomers started getting 18. We're seeing a lot of it now, we're seeing these cool hipsters, man ...
"You can't tell 18-year-olds anything. ... That's what happens. The irony happens. And it's cool to be in a not-cool place. Get it man? And so that's what the big shift was that our guys are trying to figure out."
A question later, his publicist Erica Gray of PMK interrupted and escorted him to the other side of the room. By then, the party was starting to wrap, and we couldn't understand why our time with Hamm had been cut short. After all, we had been patient. We followed the publicity trail and found Hamm on the other side of the back bar, smoking with a few others. How very Don Draper, we observed. So we let him have his moment. Then we saw other journalists approaching, so we figured the coast was clear. But before we could utter one syllable, Gray (does she make a lot of money doing this kind of thing?) led him away again.
OK, now we were taking it personally. Wasn't this a press party? An event that by design means that actors will speak to the press? Hamm seemed to be comfortable with his thoughts about irony, but something wasn't sitting right with his peeps. Oh, sorry, we mean "people." What were they protecting him from? Gray showed Hamm the way out, and just like that, our life's work was over.
There was nothing else to do but whine to a colleague from another major newspaper who then shared that while he was interviewing one of Hamm's costars, he was interrupted by a publicist who resorted to violence to end that interview. She had the nerve to strike him in the back!
It appears we were luckier: No Hamm but no black and blue either.
-- Maria Elena Fernandez
Photo: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times