Mad About “Mad Men”

By Craig McNair

The hit AMC show “Mad Men,” winner of three Emmy Awards for Best Drama, will resume its broadcasting with a fifth season set for summer 2012. The show’s delay comes from a dispute between creator Matthew Weiner and AMC. The conflict stems from AMC’s proposal to shorten each episode by two minutes in order to add commercial time and cutting the cast budget by removing characters from the show. Weiner stated to The New York Times that these changes would make “Mad Men” a “different show.” When asked about the proposal, Weiner said, “I don’t understand why, with all of the success of the show, they suddenly need to change it. All I want to do is continue to make my show, and make it in the way I want to, with the people I want to make it with.”

Fans of the hit show have expressed their greatest disappointment in the show’s possible budget cut of $1.5 million, the approximate salary of two regular season cast members. According to Vanity Fair magazine, their recommendation is to cut characters Betty Francis and Harry Crane.

AMC, which has benefited greatly from the show, offered Weiner a three-season deal worth $30 million. According to an article in The New York Times, AMC confirmed the show’s fifth season by stating, “while we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key noncast negotiations, ‘Mad Men’ will be back for a fifth season in early 2012.”

Weiner and AMC have clashed over “Mad Men” contract negotiations before. Two seasons ago AMC similarly tried to add two minutes of commercial time to each episode; the show’s running time was eventually lengthened two minutes to compensate for more commercial time. Weiner’s previous contract expired last October at the close of the fourth season.

AMC has also been at odds with Lionsgate, the company that produces the show. Those differences seem to have been settled, with AMC giving Lionsgate the green light to produce season five. Lionsgate produced the previous four seasons of “Mad Men”.

Despite all of the differences, Weiner said, “I love the show; I have every intention of it working out. This has been the most creatively satisfying experience of my life.” AMC’s offer of $30 million to Weiner would make him one of the highest paid producers in television.


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