"Mad Men" gets the green light for season five, but not till 2012

The AMC show will be on-air again...but will creator Matthew Weiner be involved?

By Drew Grant
Published March 29, 2011 6:30PM (EDT)
They'll be back.
They'll be back.

America has been anxiously biting its nails for news about "Mad Men," AMC's nostalgic hit show about misogynistic ad men in the 60s. Despite critical acclaim and a cult fan base, "Mad Men" fate has been up in the air regarding its fifth season, due to stalled negotiations between producers Lionsgate, AMC, and the show's creator and executive producer, Matthew Weiner. This time last week we were wondering if "Mad Men" would even make an appearance in 2011. Well, today we got our answer.

The official statement from AMC:

"AMC has officially authorized production of season 5 of Mad Men, triggering our option with Lionsgate. While we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key non-cast negotiations, Mad Men will be back for a fifth season in early 2012."

Okay, so we're getting our "Mad Men," but not till 2012? That's going to make some viewers very upset when they go through Jon Hamm-withdrawl and start getting the shakes. But even more upsetting is that these "key non-cast negotiations" involve Weiner himself, and as of yet, he still doesn't have a contract with Lionsgate. Meaning that AMC picked up the show with the possibility that Weiner won't be attached, as slim of a chance as that might be. (As Deadline Hollywood put it, "Weiner is poised to become the highest-paid showrunner on basic cable with a new mega deal that would pay him close to $30 million over two years," which would essentially make the former "Soprano's" writer the Charlie Sheen of TV producers.)

Still, it's the principle that matters: three years ago when similar negotiations were being haggled between Lionsgate and AMC, the network stipulated they wouldn't pay for the show if Weiner wasn't attached. The fact that they've done so this time around is a concession that reveals the network's belief that "Mad Men" could survive without Weiner, should it come to that. Though it won't, probably. Unless Weiner starts ranting about Tiger Blood and warlocks.

Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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