“Mad Men” lives! And it’s going to keep on living for at least two more seasons and possibly three under a new multi-year deal announced Thursday night by AMC and parent company Lionsgate along with Matthew Weiner, the show’s creator and executive producer.
The deal means fans of the critically acclaimed series can breathe a sigh of relief after days of stories reporting that Weiner and AMC were so far apart in their negotiations on a new contract that the very future of “Mad Men” was in doubt.
Now, however, its future is assured, but for only these three seasons. In an interview with Deadline.com, Weiner said he’ll end the series at the conclusion of the seventh season.
The show almost didn’t come back at all. Weiner said he “walked away from [the deal] 4-5 times in the last few days” over the company’s demands.
“AMC and Lionsgate today announced the return of the iconic series ‘Mad Men’ for seasons five and six with series creator Matthew Weiner back on board as showrunner,” said the companies’ press release. And, it continued, “Weiner has signed a new long-term deal with Lionsgate, extending into a possible seventh season.”
The official news release gave no details about the agreement, but Deadline.com had some of them. According to reports over the past week, Weiner and AMC were at loggerheads over the network’s request for more flexibility on product placements within “Mad Men” episodes and more commercial time. They also reportedly asked him to cut two characters, to save money on actors’ salaries. And Weiner was said to be asking for a three-year deal worth $30 million, though he denied that figure in a statement of his own Wednesday.
According to the Deadline story, Weiner was able to hold the line on the company’s request that he cut characters. “The cast is safe from financial concerns,” he said. In addition, the show’s current product-placement policy remains in place, he said. As for the two-minute cuts for commercials, Weiner conceded that point, agreeing to cut the episodes from 47 minutes to 45 minutes, except for season premieres and finales.
“I want to thank all of our wonderful fans for their support,” Weiner said in a prepared statement. “I also 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.”
While the deal means this revered show will go on, the long-awaited fifth season still won’t be seen ’til early 2012 (probably in March). The delay has been blamed mainly on the length of the negotiations over Weiner’s contract, which has, in turn, delayed the start of production.
But Weiner told Deadline.com that AMC told him last fall his show wouldn’t get its usual summer start time because the cable channel has so many other original series to accommodate these days. The late start for the fifth season was a sticking point for Weiner, but in the end, he was unable to get AMC to agree to premiere the new “Mad Men” season some time in 2011.
So Weiner, like the rest of us, will have to wait ’til next year to see his show on TV.