'Mad Men' creator Matt Weiner agrees to new deal
Martinis for everyone!
"Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner has signed a new deal to remain with the cult cable show for at least two more seasons.
Weiner had been in tough negotiations with AMC, the cable network that carries "Mad Men," and Lionsgate, the production company that makes the hourlong drama about fast-living advertising executives in 1960s New York City.
The show, which normally runs in the summer, had already been pushed to early next year, in part because of the contract dispute. It will probably return to the air in March 2012.
While Weiner will be paid handsomely for staying with the show -- people familiar with his contract say it is worth close to $10 million a season -- money was not the main issue threatening his status. AMC had wanted to add additional commercials to "Mad Men" and Lionsgate wanted to find ways to cut costs in production of the expensive period drama. AMC had also wanted to pursue more product placement and product integration in the show to help it recoup its costs.
A compromise of sorts was reached on the commercials. The first and last episodes of the upcoming fifth season will run at 47 minutes and the rest of the episodes will run at 45 minutes. Weiner will have the option to make those other episodes at 47 minutes for other platforms including video on demand, DVD and iTunes.
With regard to the cast, people close to the show said the main characters are all locked in for the next two seasons, which is how long AMC's current deal with Lionsgate for the show runs. A seventh season with Weiner onboard is likely unless AMC decides it is ready to move on from the series or the bulk of the cast is not renewed.
In a statement, 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."
"Mad Men" has won three Emmy Awards for outstanding drama and helped boost AMC from an also-ran cable network to a first-tier channel. It now has other successful original shows including "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad" and it has been able to boost both the dollars it attracts from advertisers and the fees pay-TV distributors shell out to carry the network.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: "Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner (second from left with trophy) at the Golden Globes with the cast. Credit: Andrew Gombert/EPA.