With the fate of the 5th season up in the air, AMC and Lionsgate play chicken with one of TV's hottest commodities
If “Mad Men” doesn’t come back for a fifth season, I’m blaming Rich Sommer. No, I know it’s not the fault of the actor and writer who plays Harry Crane on AMC’s critical darling that negotiations have dragged out this long, but he’s the one who got us worried about the possibility. And now that there’s officially a “problem” (in so far as the news of a setback is no longer gossip, but a story for the New York Times), I can’t help feeling like I could have had at least four blissful months of ignorance if Rich hadn’t tweeted back in November that he didn’t know whether the show was going to come back on.
Rich quickly qualified his tweet — saying that he was just referring to the lack of an official statement regarding a pickup for next season — but he was obviously concerned, which made us concerned. Why wouldn’t “Mad Men” get picked up for another season, when it’s won so many awards and garnered such critical praise?
The problem stems, as it usually does, from money issues. AMC currently pays over $2 million an episode to Lionsgate for the show, and now the production company wants to up the price. This happened once before in 2008, when Lionsgate tried to push out creator Matthew Weiner and AMC fought back to keep both the show and Weiner as executive producer. But this time it’s different: Despite all the acclaim, “Mad Men’s” ratings aren’t great, and now AMC has both “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead,” two other critical successes. “Dead” did especially well this year, with the zombie show’s premiere drawing in the network’s largest audience to date, nearly twice as many as “Mad Men’s” third season opener.
Adding to its problems with AMC, Lionsgate still hasn’t given Weiner a contract for next season, despite the former “Soprano” writer’s insistence that he’d like “the show to go on and on and on until it has worn out its welcome with viewers.” Again, it’s a money issue, but one that puts the production company at war with both its talent and its distributor, a lose-lose situation for everyone (but especially us viewers). If Weiner leaves the show, AMC might decide the high price Lionsgate is trying to negotiate isn’t worth it, and like Roger Sterling’s Lucky Strikes account, losing Weiner as a linchpin could cause the whole operation to crumble.
Still, there’s no reason to think “Mad Men” is gone for good (since essentially this is all a fight about who gets what share of a profitable program, and no one wants to kill a golden goose), but a delay now looks inevitable. According to the New York Times piece, we may not see Draper and co. until the end of 2011 … if we see them this year at all.
Meanwhile, John Slattery is looking for a job where he can continue to wear fedoras to work every day.
More Related Stories
- Cannes: Ryan Gosling's new movie draws the boo-birds
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- Juror responds to Joe Francis' insults with thoughtful email
- New track from the Lonely Island features Solange Knowles, semicolons
- Amazon introduces fan fiction publishing platform
- Naomi Watts, "Argo," "Wonderstone" among bizarre Teen Choice Awards nominees
- Imprisoned Pussy Riot member declares hunger strike
- The camp-free "Behind the Candelabra"
- Justin Bieber will destroy you if you live-tweet his parties
- Marc Maron on Twitter feud with Michael Ian Black: "We have an understanding"
- "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis to jury: "You should be euthanized"
- Ai Weiwei releases heavy metal music video
- Actually, Beyoncé is a feminist
- Marc Maron and Michael Ian Black's epic Twitter battle
- Cannes: Directing 101 with James Franco
- Welcome to the jungle: The definitive oral history of '80s metal
- Burt Bacharach opens up on daughter's suicide
- Steven Spielberg to produce "Halo" television series
- Amazon set to launch fine-art gallery
- Twitter torches Dan Brown's "Inferno"
- Brad Pitt keeps breaking his silence on how boring marriage to Jennifer Aniston was
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11