Nov 022008
 

Interviewing Matt Weiner is a rollercoaster. Let me tell you, the Lipps are a talky family; we can speed-chat with the best of them, and Matt ran circles around us. He talks a blue streak, circling around an idea, but eventually looping back to answer the question. Like Don Draper, he has driving curiosity about everything he encounters, and so everything is interesting and worth discussing.

But, y’know, it’s hard to ask a question, because he’s off and running when it’s half out of your mouth. And saying that, I’ll also say I wouldn’t trade the experience of this interview for the world.

Our talk was chatty and conversational, and we’ve chosen to preserve that tone; we want you Basketcases to get the feeling that you’re there with us, with this amazing creative mind who has thoughts about everything. We spoke the day after our season finale party. The feeling that we were continuing a conversation from the night before probably contributed to the chatty feeling. It’s a joyride, truly, so join us on it.

Following are highlights from this fascinating conversation, and then at the end is a full, and very long (over 8,000 words), transcript. (Or you can just jump to the transcript.)

(DL=Deborah Lipp, RL=Roberta Lipp, MW=Matt Weiner)


About the unpredictable plot, and an exclusive reveal about Rachel:
MW: As a rule, I would not say anybody is definitely going to be back, and I’m not just playing with that, as like a creative tool. I don’t know what the story is. It is completely possible that we could come back and be at a totally different agency. I want people to know that, and I want to take advantage of things on the show about our adventurousness in storytelling and our willingness to spend intellectual and financial capital on telling stories that aren’t predictable. And I think that there was a sincere belief, and there should have been, because I toyed with it, that Don was not coming back.
RL: There was certainly a sincere question. A sincere willingness to not trust you to bring him back.
MW: And that’s what I, or that we would follow, I mean, Don will always be in the show, but that the show would be somewhere else.
DL: Structurally, you could have done it.
MW: I could. It has to be in sync there. That’s why bringing Don back, it had to be very; I always saw him as coming back home from that, but I said in the back of my mind, you gotta believe that he’s going to leave. You not only have to believe in the story, you have to believe that the show will do that.
DL: We have to trust your unpredictability.
MW: That’s why Rachel is not in the show this year. Because it’s not believable. As much as we love her, and I love Maggie Siff, and I love the chemistry between them, Don is not in that place in his life and that woman would never go back to him. Never. Not at this point in her life…Can I just tell you? Which, this is an exclusive thing…When Betty kicked Don out, there was a moment, it was suggested by one of the consultants or something, wouldn’t Don run to Rachel? And it was in Six Month Leave. And I wrote the scene. And it made me hate Don. To see Don so weak and so shallow, and it was such a; he was a child, and it made me really hate Rachel. Like, how could you get involved with this man who was so bad for you. So, that boiled down to, what that became was him saying “Tilden Katz.” That was it.

About Bobby Draper:
RL: I’m hoping that now that she’s confronted the real liar in the family, that maybe she can ease up on that kid.
MW: She can ease up on that kid, but you know, here’s the other thing, what is the character of that kid? You can’t just make it all her. He may be a kid who, he already doesn’t need her that much, and that may frustrate her, her whole life. He says no. He does kid stuff like lying and she’s decided he’s a liar.
RL: Right, right. Yeah, and he does lie, We’ve seen it.
MW: Of course, why wouldn’t he? He’s a little boy… I love the fact that he’s not some TV kid, he’s not the perfect kid, and he’s not just a victim. He has a personality, and you can see as he walked into the hotel room and he punches Don.

How Bert Cooper sees Don (and a deleted line):
MW: I think he [Cooper] sees greatness in Don. Actually there was a line that was cut for time, in the conference room scene, before the British come in. Cooper turns to Don, he’s sitting at the table, and he says “Where the hell were you?” he says “I was in California.” And Cooper says “What did you learn there?” And then they came in.
DL: Nice!
MW: I know, I didn’t have time for it. But he admires Don. He recognizes what Don is. He recognized it right away. That’s why he says “Who cares?” Don’s great at his job. Don’s a great creative person. Don is someone who is experiencing life and he is mentoring Don. He’s trying to teach him the ways of the world. That’s why he was explaining to him about philanthropy and he was basically saying, Pull back the curtain, take a seat. How could you not? I think you know right there and then exactly what he thinks of Don. You know, be one of us.

About Father Gill:
RL: So: Everybody was expecting the Thorn Birds.
MW: Yeah, you know, how you’re shocked by the fact that the guy’s a priest.
RL: But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have…
DL: They have feelings
MW: He’s a human being, he definitely had feelings for her. And as a priest, he has to deal with that. And he was attracted to her because she’s a light. And I was saying this earlier to someone else, he comes into that house and he sees how she is, and who she is, and she’s Peggy, she’s amazing!
That doesn’t mean he’s going to throw his vows away or anything like that. He’s a very idealistic person. And I think that it’s sad that his relationship with her is ruined by her sister. A big theme of the season was how we perceive people and then how the more you get to know the facts about them the fantasy sort of drops away. Her sister ruined that fantasy, of what he thought she was. She ruined that. But at the same time it just reinvigorated his desire to save her.

About the Tarot reading:
DL: I’m a Tarot reader, and I’ve been analyzing Anna’s reading. I want to know what your understanding of that reading is, is that a reading that you put together?
MW: That was a reading that I got.
[DL & RL both gasp in astonishment. Audibly.]
RL: She [Deborah] said that nobody gets that reading!
MW: I know.
DL: You got that reading? With Judgement, The Sun, and the World?
MW: Yeah, yeah, I got that reading and the person who was giving it to me said, let me explain to you what this is, it’s a big deal.

MW: And let me tell you something, it did not go over great in the writer’s room. People are like what, why, what? Don? And the Tarot? And who’s this woman? And I’m like, she’s in California, it’s totally organic, Don is going to be skeptical but he’s going to be drawn in the way you are to those things: ‘You have something to tell me about myself that I don’t know? What does this thing say?’ And it’s so historical you know? I don’t mean 1962. People have been looking to that, whether it’s psychiatry or religion or whatever, they’re always looking for a set of objective rules that will tell them what’s going on. The writers were skeptical about it, and they didn’t know if it was the right tone. I understood Anna right away; they had to be introduced to the concept of Anna more than I did. And so I just thought Look, what an amazing message, and that was the message that was given to me, that you cannot accept the fact that you are not alone. And that is so Don…What piece of his life has told him that he’s not alone? Nothing.

About climbing on counters:
MW: That was Robin [Veith]. Robin’s thing. Robin says, ‘That was my job, ’cause I’m short, I always have to climb up on the counter.’ We had to go back and get that shot, we didn’t have time to get it that day, and we went back and got it. We could have just played it off-camera and I was like, no I want to see that, the audience is going to love that.


FULL TRANSCRIPT
Interview with Matthew Weiner (MW), Deborah Lipp (DL) and Roberta Lipp (RL), on the morning of October 27, 2008, the night after our Season Finale party, to which Matt Weiner came.

MW: That was so great last night, it was so great to spend time with you guys.
RL: Oh my God.
DL: It was awesome.
RL: We were having a great time before you showed up.
MW: Oh, good.
RL: And it got better!
MW: I was saying, I was talking to Linda [his wife] afterwards [after our finale party] and I was saying, everyone’s so smart. It’s literally like your fantasy of an audience, it really is. I love it.
RL: Well good. It’s been an honor to be the people to pull that together.
DL: You’ve created a literary audience.
MW: That makes me very happy.
DL: You drive away the illiterate.
RL: And the drunks, thank you for getting rid of my drunk, finally. [Roberta had a drunk suitor at the party].
MW: Oh sure.
RL: That was awesome, you ate him up.
[laughter]
MW: I’m psyched about the James Bond book [Deborah gave him a copy of The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book]. I’m a huge James Bond person, as you might imagine.
DL: I was so psyched about 1962 being the year of Dr No.
MW: I know, I know, well, you know it was released in England in 1962.
DL: That’s true.
MW: It was a big luck thing for them that it happened at the same time as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
MW: And it came to America and it was just gigantic.
DL: In May of ’63.
MW: Yes.
RL: You notice that’s the part where I’m quiet. I’ve seen one James Bond movie ever. Somebody asked me last night, did you co-write [The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book]? I’m like, not so much.
DL: [laughs]
MW: From the beginning of the show, I always thought I would end the pilot with Bjork’s version of “You Only Live Twice,” that ‘s how much I love that stuff. But I found something better, more appropriate.
RL: We love [your musical choices].
MW: I have a great composer and I get to pick good songs. For 26 episodes I have not exhausted my iPod yet, I’m very happy.
RL: Nice!
MW: I’ve been collecting music for a long time, and I know the period, and I know the period before it. I like to be able to go all over the place.
RL: Yeah, I love a lot that you’re not married to the year that it’s set in. I hate that on TV.
MW: I do too! And I always hear people, “Why was The Decemberists in there?” And I’m like, it’s not on the radio, why shouldn’t I be able to use it? It, it’s such a kickass song and it’s exactly about what’s going on there. It gives so much energy to that, and it told the story, it let people know that in these three shots, this was the story of the episode, about the princess.

DL: I’m a Tarot reader, and I’ve been analyzing Anna’s reading. I want to know what your understanding of that reading is, is that a reading that you put together?
MW: That was a reading that I got.
[DL & RL both gasp in astonishment. Audibly.]
RL: She [Deborah] said that nobody gets that reading!
MW: I know.
DL: You got that reading? With Judgement, The Sun, and the World?
MW: Yeah, yeah, I got that reading and the person who was giving it to me said, let me explain to you what this is, it’s a big deal.
RL: I wish you could see her [Deborah's] face right now.
MW: And it was like, you’re always looking for reasons for people to do things, and I knew that Don had to confront what was going on, and I knew he wasn’t going to take the Tarot seriously. He shouldn’t; on some level, it is a Rorschach test. People can tell you what it says, but you really have to think about your life, and you ignore some things, and pick other things up. I don’t want to be the person going around telling you that you have to believe in that, but on some level I do. I think it provides insights. It’s so much about trying on new lives, what is at the core of you as a human being, what is your relationship to the world. The questions that are asked in a Tarot reading are questions that do need to be asked. That’s where he was.
DL: Well that’s a reading about your fate and about your integration as a soul, so it’s an extraordinary reading.
MW: And let me tell you something, it did not go over great in the writer’s room. People are like what, why, what? Don? And the Tarot? And who’s this woman? And I’m like, she’s in California, it’s totally organic, Don is going to be skeptical but he’s going to be drawn in the way you are to those things: ‘You have something to tell me about myself that I don’t know? What does this thing say?’ And it’s so historical you know? I don’t mean 1962. People have been looking to that, whether it’s psychiatry or religion or whatever, they’re always looking for a set of objective rules that will tell them what’s going on. The writers were skeptical about it, and they didn’t know if it was the right tone. I understood Anna right away; they had to be introduced to the concept of Anna more than I did. And so I just thought Look, what an amazing message, and that was the message that was given to me, that you cannot accept the fact that you are not alone. And that is so Don.
DL: That is so powerful.
MW: What piece of his life has told him that he’s not alone? Nothing.
DL: Wow. So your production logo of the Sun came from your experience of getting that reading?
MW: No, no, no. Look, if I’m getting readings, I obviously like the tarot

The Sun

The Sun

[laughs]. It’s a very anti-intellectual thing. I’m not ashamed of it or anything like that, But people are always surprised that I like that, or I’m interested in it, or whatever. But I picked the Sun because, at different points in my life, I could have just as easily picked, I think it’s the Ten of Swords that’s the one with the guy laying on the ground with like ten swords in his back?
DL: Yeah, that’s the Ten of Swords.
MW: And there’s the one, maybe it’s the Three of Cups or something, where he’s holding one cup and there’s two that are spilled over.
DL: That’s the Five of Cups.
MW: And it’s telling you, accept the fact that you still have a full cup, ignore the ones that are knocked over. There are all kinds of things that emotionally attach you to things. But I thought of using that card [the Sun] during the pilot because I was so filled with happiness at having got to execute my vision and being surrounded by all these creative people, it seemed very magical, I felt like that baby on the horse, and also; there’s four sunflowers in it which are my children.
DL: Ah, WOW. You’re killing us, killing us.
RL: [laughs]
MW: [laughs] I don’t do anything just to do it, you know that. But the Sun is the happiest card.
DL: It’s beautiful.
MW: Forget about the card, some human beings devised that system of cards and their images that stand for millions of words, and what the Sun stands for is something that I wanted on my show.
RL: That’s beautiful. It works.
MW: I always want to say this: Just because there’s a bleakness to the human condition, there should be some joy in the fact that we’re even recognizing it. That we’re acknowledging it. That we’re acknowledging humanity. It’s something that people avoid because it’s too unpleasant or it’s too complicated. It’s two things at once. Whatever. And I love the idea that there’s this spark of joy under there where you say like ˜Hey, we’re people.’
RL: Yeah.
MW: that’s a good thing, it’s not a bad thing.
RL: As a singer, at some point I learned to smile through the sad songs because you look better doing it.
MW: Right. Right!
RL: But it’s also, it’s about, that’s the joy of life. That’s how you get yourself to smile, because we’re alive and we’re miserable, and whatever; there’s joy there.
MW: Yeah. How many people in Shakespeare are saying like how tragic things are? The human condition is, if you have consciousness that you’re going to die, everything could be a tragedy, or you can just say, Oh my God, I can’t believe that we got to be alive and experience this and get to touch other people, and get to know people, and get to, you know? And with singing especially, my God. People who sing, who lean on the sad parts, the audience, you never engage.
RL: Yeah, you can’t [do that].
MW: It’s funny in reference to last night’s episode [Meditations in an Emergency], Elisabeth [Moss] and Vincent [Kartheiser] are both; they are Ferraris, they can do anything. And we don’t talk a lot about what things mean, we let them; they know what it means. They know the characters as well as I do. We’ve made them together. So when we were doing that last scene, Elisabeth was crying during some of it. And it wasn’t written in or anything, but it’s hard not to. And she actually cried when they brought her the baby last year too and I said, you know, try not to.
DL: [laughs]
MW: No, I mean, what I love about what happened with her and Pete is that in the take that we used she’s fighting [tears]. I said “Don’t give that to him. You don’t want him to see you crying about this. You’re trying to explain this, you’re trying to be clear, you’re trying to unburden yourself and be honest. And he deserves to know this. You’re actually giving him something by letting him know this. He needs to know it.”
RL: She was very kind with him about it.
MW: She was kind with him. Well, he professed his love to her and he’s so open and beautiful about it. I was sitting there, I’ve watched the scenes a hundred times at this point, not just the twenty times that we shot it, another hundred times in the editing room. I want her to kiss him when he says “What, you didn’t know that?” Takes her hand, “You didn’t know that I love you?” You want her to kiss him, and then you’re like, “How could she? It’s too late for him to say this to her!” I said to her, “Don’t let him have it.” And I love that she said “I had a baby and gave it away,” she can’t even get the words out; she can’t even finish the words.
RL: I love the way she pauses and braces herself. That’s what you do when you’re about to say the thing you can’t say.
MW: Right. She steels herself and then she tells him that story about losing things and about being a human being. Trying to explain to him that feelings go away, and things change in your life, and you lose innocence, and you lose things you care about. It’s a very general speech. It’s not about the baby.
DL and RL together: Right.
RL: But it was perfectly analogous to the baby.
MW: I’ll be very honest with you, my wife wrote that speech. She thought it one night and said it to me, and I carried it around. It was like, ˜Is Don going to say this?’
DL: [laughs] No.
MW: And then I thought, this is a female concept, like maybe Betty will say this. I think Betty is going to say this to Don when he comes back.
RL: Wow.
MW: And then I thought, no. And when we were in the middle of that scene, Kater [Gordon] and I were working on that scene, and Kater did the first draft of that scene, she did an amazing job with me on the whole episode, and it was like, this is where it goes. It’s so eloquent and at the same time so vague, that emotionally you just get everything that’s going on in her.
RL: And it was cool, because Peggy is not usually cryptic, but she’s also not usually that open.
MW: She’s pretty cryptic. All of Peggy’s speeches start at the end.
DL: She doesn’t give much away.
MW: But she’s always saying, like, this is going to end badly and let me tell you why. [All laugh] She’s very polite.
DL: She’s extraordinarily polite. She was so polite with Bobbie while she was slapping her down. It was a wonderful relationship.
MW: Yeah I love that stuff. Oh my God, how real was that? I mean, everybody was true to their character in that episode, that’s what’s amazing about it. You want from the dramatic standpoint, the life standpoint, the TV standpoint, the movie standpoint, whatever, you want those two people to engage in a much more blatant way. But they would never do that, and it’s totally held on to when you watch that. Bobbie is the adult and she basically says ‘Look,’ it was in the script, that she holds her hand and she tries to make eye contact with her, “Do you understand what I’m saying, dear?” Because she’s not sure if Peggy’s really listening.
RL: Because maybe she’s not all there.
DL & RL: [laugh]
MW: Or she doesn’t want to hear it! She doesn’t want to hear it.
RL: “And really you’re not in love with Don? Really?” That was great.
MW: Yeah, how could that be? Why are you doing this for this guy?
RL: ‘Cause, look! Have you seen Don?
MW: Well, there is that, too.
RL: There is that.
MW: And she’s always telling people she’s not in love with Don.
RL: But then she makes that fantastic joke! [in Meditations in an Emergency, about sleeping with Don]
DL: That was the best joke.
MW: Isn’t it great that Don has relationships with people that are not sexual? Isn’t it great?
RL: I told you last night, I love Don and Joan; they’re awesome.
MW: Yeah, oh, me too. Also for me it’s literally, look at these people, these quarterbacks in the scene. It’s just like, oh what is this going to be? It doesn’t matter, the two of them, they totally speak the same language, and he has complete confidence in her, there’s no issue.
DL: That’s what I love about that relationship, is he just trusts her. He’s like, Okay, Miss Holloway, what’s up with this? And he can rely on her. It’s the difference where Jane comes in and says, you can trust me to be discreet, because he can’t. Joan never says that.
MW: Right, right, exactly. Exactly.
RL: So talking about Bobbie with Peggy, which was awesome,I wanted you to talk a little about the difference in Joan and Peggy’s relationship this year.
MW: Joan and Peggy’s relationship has diverged, it diverges and then comes back to itself. And I think what you see is, Joan is still confident that Peggy has chosen the wrong way of life. And that’s kind of great. Joan is very confident. Joan doesn’t want what Peggy wants. But then, these things that she tells her in [episode] 6, ˜you’ve never listened to me.’ You know, they’re not in direct contact anymore because she doesn’t work for Joan anymore. So I didn’t want to make them best friends, but I also wanted to maintain what it is: These two very different tracks in that office.

And to me it pays off in that scene where Peggy is asking Joan how to get her name on the office door and Joan is back at Don’s desk. She picked this other way. You know, people always wonder, how did Betty marry Don? Well, she was very, very sexually attracted to him. He looked great on paper. And he worshiped her, we saw that, we saw how he felt about her. He felt lucky to have her.

And Greg feels all those things about Joan. And that was her goal. She said it in the pilot: “You won’t be living in the city at all.” And when they’re having the Chinese food when she’s doing the job, he’s like ‘Oh, you know, I thought you were going to be looking for a house. I’m going to finish my training and you’re going to get pregnant and we’re going to have this amazing life together. And she’s like, “Well,yeah!” You know, “Finish your training. You told me I can’t afford a house. You told me I can’t do this.”

He’s still being the traditional husband. “Well, then I approve.” and she goes “Well thank you very much.” I mean, it’s not Afghanistan where there are a bunch of rules laid down for women. These are people. And no one expects their spouse to condescend to them like that. Even when Betty went and got her job last year and she asked Don to fill out the form, it’s still about her having a job. It’s not like Sally got a job.
RL: Right, right, it’s a working woman.
MW: Yeah, I always try to maintain the reality of that, but also talk about what the people’s expectations are. And there was an expectation and there still is. For a certain kind of person, and, men always talk about this as a justification for treating their wives badly”a lot of times is “I take care of you. You don’t have to do anything. That’s what you wanted.”
RL: Yeah, Don said that early this season.
MW: Right, and Joan is heading towards that. And Betty is realizing that it’s not so great to be taken care of. Or that she’s not being taken care of. That it’s her job to take care of herself.
DL: It always was an unrealistic expectation. That’s why the system started caving in.
MW: Well, you know, it exists right now. And there’s lots of professional, high-earning women who get married and have children and then as the children grow up they are facing this exact same thing. And they’re confronting other moms at the school, and the moms have full-time jobs, and who’s going to be doing stuff at the school? Whose time is valuable and whose isn’t? You know, ‘just because I don’t have a job doesn’t mean my time isn’t valuable.’ Well, yeah, I guess it does. You know what I mean?
RL & DL: Yeah!
MW: That’s the attitude. That’s the war that’s going on. That’s this, that’s 2008. So what does it look like in 1962? When that, it’s still a very acceptable job to have, if you’re lucky enough to do it. Of course a big difference is that a lot of these women have had very, very high-powered professions, and I think it’s even harder. Forget about having an amazing education. I think it’s very,very hard to go from having a high-powered profession, you know, to um, doing nothing. Children is not nothing, but it becomes less and less and less as they start going to school, because it becomes much less labor-intensive job.
RL: And then the first few years is spent talking to little children all day.
MW: You’ve been the branch manager of a bank, or you’re an investment banker, or you’ve been a lawyer, a high-powered lawyer, that moment in your life, it’s like Ah! It’s what I wanted to do! How great, how lucky am I that I can afford to do this full time? As my mom did it, or whatever, I felt too guilty going to work every day. I don’t want to shit on that part of the job, but it’s never expected of a man that you’d want to do that.

And my wife is a working woman and a professional, and she’s run offices, and she’s worked at a big firm, and she still runs her business and is working constantly. But you know she was nursing and drawing plans at the same time. She literally was nursing and drawing at the same time, like three weeks after the first baby was born.
DL: Listen, you can prop a book on a baby’s head while you’re nursing
MW: That’s true.
DL: It doesn’t leave a mark.
MW: Absolutely.
DL: I’ve done it.
MW: And they don’t care.
DL: No.
[Everyone laughs]
RL: Does Betty love those kids?
MW: Yeah, I think she; I think if you asked her, yeah, absolutely.
DL: If you asked her, sure [but] I thought it was significant that she said to Juanita, “I have a daughter [pause], oh yeah, and a son.”
MW: [laughs] Yeah! That’s definitely true. My feeling is that, like a lot of people in a situation, Betty is not perfect. And she is too young to have that job; I’ve always felt that way. She may be too much of a narcissist to be a mom. She may not have been meant to have children.
RL: And her doctor knew that. Her doctor was like, “This time you’re worried about your figure.”
MW: I thought that was more general advice. At the time, ‘I just lost the weight, I don’t want to have another baby!’ But, you know, it could have been about Betty too. Her vanity is part of her character, I did that on purpose. She was drawn into a crisis realizing that, not just that she was going to die. Remember what she said about Sally? [If] Sally had [gotten] a scar? ‘I’d rather that she be killed?’ I think it’s that life with a scar would be too hard for her.
DL: Because there’s no life worthwhile for a woman with a scar.
MW: Yeah, but [for] a boy it’s not a big deal. I think she biologically loves them, and I think that she can learn to be a better mom. But in her heart, she doesn’t have the kind of attachment she should have. And it may be because she’s too young for the job. I think she projects a lot of what she’s angry at Don about on that boy. He’s a very independent kid and that’s very hard on people like that.
RL: I’m hoping that now that she’s confronted the real liar in the family, that maybe she can ease up on that kid.
MW: She can ease up on that kid, but you know, here’s the other thing, what is the character of that kid? You can’t just make it all her. He may be a kid who, he already doesn’t need her that much, and that may frustrate her, her whole life. He says no. He does kid stuff like lying and she’s decided he’s a liar.
RL: Right, right. Yeah, and he does lie, We’ve seen it.
MW: Of course, why wouldn’t he? He’s a little boy.
RL: He’s so cute. He’s so beautiful.
MW: I love the fact that he’s not some TV kid, he’s not the perfect kid, and he’s not just a victim. He has a personality, and you can see as he walked into the hotel room and he punches Don.
DL: [laughs] I loved that!
RL: It’s awesome. Nice to see you. Boom.
DL: Yeah, you were away, here’s payback.
MW: Yeah. I love that.
MW: So I mean, is she a bad mother? Who knows, who knows. We’re all raised by animals, right? That’s the job.
RL: Buncha monkeys.
MW: I think she’s too young for it and I think she’s a bit self-obsessed and none of that’s good for kids. I think that her relationship with Sally is complicated, her relationship with Bobby is complicated, and now she’s trapped and she’s going to have another baby. And they’re staying together for the kids. So, it’s basically true to life.

DL: Here’s a question from [hullabaloo] whom you met again recently.
MW: Sure.
DL: She’s wondering if it’s possible to do a story about race in the eaRLy 60s without having it become cliché.
MW: I don’t know. It’s a challenge, isn’t it? What I felt that I was doing this year, which was the right way to do it, was to show that these universes are going to collide. They are parallel universes. They’re not based on hatred, and it’s not In the Heat of the Night. This is not Birmingham, Alabama, this is New York City, people are living side-by-side, but they are parallel universes. And this is how they intersect. What does that mean? Because the whole thing about, let’s not even call it race, let’s just say racism”it’s the same as sexism or whatever”[is] thinking of people as other. It’s literally about thinking of people as other.

They don’t have the same feelings and thoughts as you do, they don’t have the same desires. It’s the way men are with women about sex, the way Greg was with Joan. Like why would she be that way? She’s a woman! You’re not supposed to want sex. You’re not supposed to be horny. Or want to have power, or have experience, or have thought sex out. So I look at the race issue, it all comes down to knowing individuals. As individuals become more ingrained in each other’s lives. That’s what the great thing is about integration and everything, the generation that’s after me, my kids, it’s not an exaggeration, they don’t know the difference. They do not see it because they are surrounded by people of all different kinds, especially in Los Angeles, and they’re just people. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. It’s not like, oh, that’s the black world, that’s the Hispanic world, that’s the way they are. Those people, the way Don talked about Jews with Rachel.

Am I going to do a story with Sterling Cooper having a black executive? Well considering that the first one was hired in 1962 at BBDO, I was like, I don’t think Sterling Cooper is the first place to have a black executive. [laughs]
DL: They’re not exactly cutting edge. Will Sheila be back?
MW: I love Sheila. I’ll see if I can fit the story in. I know their relationship didn’t end well, but you knew it wouldn’t.
RL: Well, who could listen to that?
MW: My favorite line in that whole story line is Paul saying to her, “Can’t it wait? Why can’t it wait?” That’s the understanding of it. And by the way, privileged white people who have good politics have made a huge difference in that world. They were very, very important to the world changing. I wasn’t just trying to ridicule him. They were the people that actually, I was trying to show, why do you go down there? It’s more complicated.
RL: It’s sort of like, the straight women speaking up about AIDS is what helped move that along.
MW: Right, absolutely. And the fact that the people who are activists are often, intolerant or insufferable or egotistical or whatever else it is, or privileged, y’know?
DL: You kind of have to be privileged to be part of a movement because otherwise you can’t take time off of work.
MW: Well, yeah. They talk about this with the Russian Revolution, it wasn’t made out of people growing up in poverty, it was a lot of sons of doctors that made the revolution happen.
RL: Right. Interesting. By the way, I go to yoga in Montclair, New Jersey. A little shout-out to Montclair; that was really fun for me.
MW: [laughs] I called David Chase, he gave me all those old places, that’s where I got that from. I got Globetrotter and antiques and then we looked it up and he was right. I love that it wasn’t the Village. It was still close to home. I love Montclair, I spent a lot of time there on the Sopranos, it’s like one of the most beautiful places in the world. And I love Morristown, you ever been there?
RL: Yeah, I was working in Morristown, I got fired from [my job in] Morristown right before your show came on the air, that’s why I got so into your show is ’cause I had a lot of [spare] time. Morristown is a very cool town.
DL: Yeah, I went to high school right near there.
RL: But Montclair is cooler, it’s a little grittier, it’s got a jazz scene, it’s got the antiques.
MW: It’s your idyllic suburb. It’s just beautiful, the houses are beautiful, all different kinds of people. Love Montclair.
DL: One of our readers asked, are you going to invite David Chase to write an episode?
MW: I don’t know. I never really thought about it. I mean obviously, David’s [great, but] I don’t know if he wants me to rewrite him.
[everyone laughs]
MW: David’s in the middle of a very high-level feature business right now, I don’t think he has the time. [If it happened] I guarantee you, it’d be great.

RL: What does Bert Cooper think of Don? It was so interesting when he said early this season “I know things about you.” What does he think of him? How does he feel about him?
MW: I think he sees greatness in Don. Actually there was a line that was cut for time, in the conference room scene, before the British come in. Cooper turns to Don, he’s sitting at the table, and he says “Where the hell were you?” he says “I was in California.” And Cooper says “What did you learn there?” And then they came in.
DL: Nice!
MW: I know, I didn’t have time for it. But he admires Don. He recognizes what Don is. He recognized it right away. That’s why he says “Who cares?” Don’s great at his job. Don’s a great creative person. Don is someone who is experiencing life and he is mentoring Don. He’s trying to teach him the ways of the world. That’s why he was explaining to him about philanthropy and he was basically saying, Pull back the curtain, take a seat. How could you not? I think you know right there and then exactly what he thinks of Don. You know, be one of us.
RL: Right.
MW: You know he doesn’t offer that to everybody. And just being creative doesn’t get you there, you have something else.
DL: Absolutely true. Being creative is gonna maybe leave you as Paul Kinsey, who doesn’t seem to be on a very strong career path.
MW: Right, right, right. I mean at a certain point, whatever your skills are, you’re going to be invited into management. And management, at least in the world of the show, and a company as big as Sterling Cooper even though it’s a small company, it’s still big enough that, that is meaningful.
DL: You mentioned last night [at the party] about Mark Moses, he’s definitely going to be back?
MW: Did I say that? I said I’m not sure. But I said love working with him and I will try. I don’t know what the story is yet.
DL: We wanted to circle back because it was kind of chaotic last night and we didn’t want to [get it wrong].
MW: As a rule, I would not say anybody is definitely going to be back, and I’m not just playing with that, as like a creative tool. I don’t know what the story is. It is completely possible that we could come back and be at a totally different agency. I want people to know that, and I want to take advantage of things on the show about our adventurousness in storytelling and our willingness to spend intellectual and financial capital on telling stories that aren’t predictable. And I think that there was a sincere belief, and there should have been, because I toyed with it, that Don was not coming back.
RL: There was certainly a sincere question. A sincere willingness to not trust you to bring him back.
MW: And that’s what I, or that we would follow, I mean, Don will always be in the show, but that the show would be somewhere else.
DL: Structurally, you could have done it.
MW: I could. It has to be in sync there. That’s why bringing Don back, it had to be very; I always saw him as coming back home from that, but I said in the back of my mind, you gotta believe that he’s going to leave. You not only have to believe in the story, you have to believe that the show will do that.
DL: We have to trust your unpredictability.
MW: That’s why Rachel is not in the show this year. Because it’s not believable. As much as we love her, and I love Maggie Siff, and I love the chemistry between them, Don is not in that place in his life and that woman would never go back to him. Never. Not at this point in her life.
RL: It was really interesting, maybe it was after Six Month Leave, in one of our discussions, one of our Basketcases said ‘Oh, God, I’m just coming to terms with that I don’t think Rachel’s coming back, and I think I’m mourning that.’ You know, ’cause when he said his name was Tilden Katz, that was painful. Painful. That made me cry, for the record.
DL: Roberta cries a lot.
MW: Can I just tell you? Which, this is an exclusive thing.
RL: Yes!
MW: When Betty kicked Don out, there was a moment, it was suggested by one of the consultants or something, wouldn’t Don run to Rachel? And it was in Six Month Leave. And I wrote the scene. And it made me hate Don. To see Don so weak and so shallow, and it was such a; he was a child, and it made me really hate Rachel. Like, how could you get involved with this man who was so bad for you. So, that boiled down to, what that became was him saying “Tilden Katz.” That was it.
DL: That was his fantasy.
MW: And for storytelling, I wanted you to think that he was going to end up with Jane. That he was going to be just some guy, having a crisis, kicked out of the house, there’s a gorgeous woman at his office and she wants to take care of him and he’s just going to jump into bed with her.
RL: I never believed he was with Jane, although I did believe, even once I found out about Roger, that really Don was her goal.
MW: No! No way. Don’s not her goal. Don doesn’t do that. Don’s not going to sleep with someone at work. He made that very clear. I didn’t, I didn’t think you’d think Don would sleep with her that episode, but I did think that you’d think that maybe Don was open to it, that there was a romance blossoming because she was taking care of him.
DL: I didn’t trust her taking care of him, it felt manipulative. So it made me trust her as a character less.
MW: Really? Well you don’t trust Jane [because] you know more about Jane than Don does.
RL: Yeah, maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s ’cause we’re women or something, but it’s like, I looked at her and he said “We’re not talking about this ever again” and yet she kept pushing.
MW: But listen, she had some balls to tell him what happened. I love that dramatically, when someone has a piece of information, it’s so awkward, they have to tell the other person that they know it, or they’re going to get in even more trouble. ‘I know that you’re not with your wife, because your kid called me.’ She never says it, you know. I suppose Joan would have known how to handle it.
RL: Joan knows how to handle everything
MW: Yeah, Joan would say “Your daughter called, she wants to know when she’s going to be able to see you again. You want to schedule her this weekend?”
DL: One of our readers pointed out that Jane handed Don his bearclaw and said here’s your breakfast whereas Joan would have just said here’s your pastry and she wouldn’t have ever implied that Don wasn’t eating breakfast at home.
MW: That is very true.
RL: That was me.
DL: Was that you?
RL: I was the “reader.”
DL [laughs]
MW: But come on, Jane is a baby Joan. Jane is definitely on her way to being a great secretary. She got exactly what Joan wanted, six months into the job. She’d wanted Roger from the beginning. I felt. Why wouldn’t you want Roger? He’s the prize. Don is not a prize, Don is too young. Don’s in it. You want to sleep with Don, but Don is not available. Roger is an idealist and he’s like, he wants to be in love and he wants to buy people presents and have fun. You know, he’s flirting with her from the very beginning.
RL: Yeah, but he flirts with everybody from the very beginning.
MW: She’s got him wrapped around her finger, it’s a great relationship. You’re never going to wrap Don around your finger.
DL: Yes, she wants somebody she can have power over, you’re right about that.
MW: She’s got some dad problems. That’s who does that.
RL: True dat.
DL: You do like dad problems in your stories.
RL: Well, they’re everywhere. People have fathers. They’re everywhere.
MW: They are.
RL: There’s an unending amount of them.
MW: Yeah, it’s the story of life. Mom and dad problems.
RL: So: Everybody was expecting the Thorn Birds.
MW: Yeah, you know, how you’re shocked by the fact that the guy’s a priest.
RL: But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have…
DL: They have feelings
MW: He’s a human being, he definitely had feelings for her. And as a priest, he has to deal with that. And he was attracted to her because she’s a light. And I was saying this eaRLier to someone else, he comes into that house and he sees how she is, and who she is, and she’s Peggy, she’s amazing! That doesn’t mean he’s going to throw his vows away or anything like that. He’s a very idealistic person. And I think that it’s sad that his relationship with her is ruined by her sister. A big theme of the season was how we perceive people and then how the more you get to know the facts about them the fantasy sort of drops away. Her sister ruined that fantasy, of what he thought she was. She ruined that. But at the same time it just reinvigorated his desire to save her.
RL: It actually amped up his Godly fantasy of their relationship, like now I’m really here for a reason.
MW: When he came to her, I don’t know if it was clear, but when he got her involved with A Night to Remember, with his attempt to, you saw that scene, it’s shot, and it was staged that way and it was in the script, that he would be sitting next to her like a confession.
RL: Oh yeah, that was visually clear.
MW: And what he said was very Vatican II. Because we were told, when you don’t go to church, you’re not just pushing yourself away from God, you’re pushing yourself away from everybody who’s there. Because churches are communities, and Peggy is divorced from humanity, that’s part of what happened to her from having this horrible experience. She’s carrying around the guilt, and she knows that she can never, she can’t take communion. She doesn’t want to take it, maybe she’s too angry to take it, or she’s just going because of her mom, or whatever the reason is. She is divorced from humanity and that’s painful.
RL: That was really touching.
MW: And her family. Now her family who she’s been trying to reject all these times, now she doesn’t even have that to reject, it’s not there for her anymore.
RL: We love her mom so much.
MW: Ah! [and] her sister! Great actresses! The people that I get on this show! Her sister is an amazing, amazing actress. And they built that set! The apartment. [inaudible, we think it's "my father's"] mother grew up in Brooklyn, and he saw the crucifix, and the pictures of Kennedy and stuff, and he knew it wasn’t a Jewish home, but he’s like, I cannot believe this is so; I mean I put the slipcovers on the couch.
DL: Listen, our parents are from Brooklyn, we got that apartment totally.
RL: Yeah. Same thing except [Chagall] pictures.
MW: But the incredible thing is, you put that woman in the hair, and you put the cigarette in her mouth, and put the coaster on the table. The actress just brought so much texture to it. And when Lizzie [Moss] walked in, when she met them, and she walked in there, she’s like, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe what a complete world this is.
RL: The set was amazing. Going back to him seeing her as a light, how many times have I climbed up on my mother’s counter?
MW: I know, that was Robin [Veith]. Robin’s thing. Robin says, ‘That was my job, ’cause I’m short, I always have to climb up on the counter.’ We had to go back and get that shot, we didn’t have time to get it that day, and we went back and got it. We could have just played it off-camera and I was like, no I want to see that, the audience is going to love that.
RL: It’s one your touches, it’s like watching Betty peeing. You don’t see that kind of physicality that often on TV.
MW: Right, right. And it’s cinema. It shows you everything, she’s shouting from the other room, I love it, I love it. From her [Robin's] childhood.
RL: And I love the line that came with it, it’s like, ˜Father, I can’t believe they know what I do for a living’; it was great.
MW: Right [laughs].
DL: And it’s more plausible shouted from the other room.
MW: That’s from my experience. [laughs] When you hear your parents talk about you, you’re like, how come I don’t get any of this. You guys are really proud of me. Tell me once in a while too. I won’t get a swelled head. I’ll stop writing mean things about you maybe.
DL & RL: [laugh]
DL: We should try that.
MW: I’ll bet they don’t even notice it, to be honest with you.
DL: I read where you said you were proud that you’d figured out all your characters’ ages. I’m very interested in how old Anna Draper is.
MW: Anna Draper. I know how old she is. She’s ten years older than Don. She’s 46. The actress isn’t–the actress is in her mid 30s, but we needed her in both ends. She’s an amazing actress.
DL: We love her.
MW: That’s another one of those things where people are coming in to read this part, and you’re like wow, look at this, how lucky am I?
RL: You got any thing you want us to know first? Any reveals.
MW: You know what? In terms of the future of the story, I don’t know anything yet. I sort of know but I can’t put it into words.
RL: And you’re saying you’re with AMC. Is there anything else you know yet?
MW: Oh, about the professional part of it?
RL: Right.
MW: This is a business thing. I’m not renegotiating. My contract expired, I had a two year contract. And it just started. We did the whole season, won the Emmys, all this other stuff, and I just heard from them recently. And so we’re getting into it now. There’s no, this is the way it works all the time. It’s just very public, I guess, because people care about the show and want to know what’s going to happen. And it’s also, the business is changing so much, the cable business, all this other stuff, so there’s interest. But there’s no intrigue or anything to report, I have to be honest with you. I have every intention and desire to continue making this show with everybody at AMC, and that’s the plan. So we’re just going to hopefully, give me a contract for a couple of years so I can keep working.
DL: Our readers are going to love to hear that.
[Then we break into a conversation about HBO and AMC and iTunes which turns into...]
MW: I am a TV fanatic. I will tell you this, it is a very exciting time to be in TV. And if you look, everyone’s upset about the dwindling audiences. The audience is huge, it’s just spread out in a hundred different places instead of five. And people are watching a lot of TV and they’re watching all different kinds of TV. To be on TV in a world where The Simpsons and South Park and 30 Rock and The Office and The Shield and Damages; this is not entertainment for idiots, this is very satisfying entertainment. I’m very proud to be part of it.
RL: I love that you list South Park as among ‘not for idiots.’ I mean, you’re right, it’s just great.
MW: South Park, it’s a miracle it exists, you can’t believe it! I mean, they’re making tons of money on it, so of course it makes sense now, but look at what the show is and how incredibly subversive it is. The Simpsons! What is it, like twenty years of this thing? And it’s still [daring] Come on, come on! What is that?
RL: Do you have any, like from your past, like moments of TV, like scripts? I’m a fan of the Mary Tyler Moore Show pilot, I think it’s perfect. Or the West Wing pilot. You got any of those, that are your favorites?
MW: You know, I’ve been in the TV business for a while. I was not allowed to watch a lot of TV as a kid because I was always being punished.

[At this point, we had a tape problem. Two tape problems, actually, because we used two recording devices, and yet, we lost about five minutes of tape. Here is what we remember:

After saying as a kid he didn't watch a lot of TV because he was always in trouble, he added he mostly watched on Saturday nights. (Which would include Mary Tyler Moore; Matt and Roberta are the same age, and she remembers.) So he didn't really start getting into TV until college. He listed a bunch of shows, not all of which we remember, including MASH, Six Feet Under, Fawlty Towers, and Mr. Show.

And there was this, paraphrased exchange:
MW: Cheers, that's a great one. I mean it's one set!
RL: That's another perfect pilot.
MW: Well in terms of pilots, the Sopranos is maybe the best pilot ever made. Working on the show, almost anything that came up could be referenced back to the pilot; it was all there.

He also said that every one of the shows he mentioned, he's criticized at some point. He's complained about the show disappointing him on some occasion. He totally appreciates that kind of thinking about television, and therefore totally gets where fans like us are coming from. I said if that's the case, he's going to love my Bond book, because I sure tear into it. And we all laughed (lots of laughter in this interview) and we also added, of course, how glad we are that he appreciates his fans even when we criticize.]

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  38 Responses to “Matt Weiner Interview part 3: More highlights, and full transcript”

  1. I love that you highlighted that thing about Bobby. What struck me was that I kept going after Betty on that one, but he kept bringing me back to the point (kept bringing me back… I feel like maybe he touched on this the night before as well) of this kid as a whole person. And, I mean, duh. Matt is the father of four boys. He knows full well that a kid is not just a character in a show, or in a family's fantasy of playing house; he's a real and full and challenging person.

  2. Great interview you two. I really enjoyed it. He is a chatty one. It's amazing that he says so much and yet does not reveal too much about where things are going. But, it is very apparent that a tremendous amount of thought goes into these characters and the story.

    One surprise is that he does not know where the story is going. So much of the story seems to build with little hints along the way. It is a little surprising that there is not a "grand plan." In a way, it is nice to know that it could go in a hundred different ways, but it would seem that he would have certain ideas about where it is going. I'm babbling- sorry.

  3. Roberta, he did bring that up about Bobby the night before.

    Bronco, you're not babbling, and we appreciate your comment.

  4. Well, I’m just hoping there’s a Part 4 … that was awesome guys. I pored over every damn word.

    Fortune is indeed the product of design. You deserve it!

  5. Bronco, you can’t possibly have read the interview and then call yourself a babbler.

    And it is the part of his brain I’d love to further pick… how do the ideas start and how does he knit them together? But it’s like, never really going to be possible to identify that fully. I do wish I knew, like, get an accurate inventory, of exactly what he did and did not know when he wrote the first episode of the season, For Those Who Think Young. I did re-watch this morning, and so much was there. But they write all season, so what parts need to be worked out?

    It appears that in that episode he knew Don was going to California. And from what he said to us, what he hadn’t decided was if he was coming back. I’m guessing also that he knew the Arthur/Sarah Beth storyline, and that Betty would do exactly what she did in that bar. So fascinating.

  6. I agree w/ Bronco that MW is great about giving info w/o giving things away. The Lipps also did a great job in getting at things MW did not address in the interviews with Sepinwall and Ryan. Helps to be a Tarot reader! The stuff on Rachel and Jane was great, too. MW’s comments about Joan through most of the post-S2 interviews depress me, but I guess I may have to steel myself for her disappointments.

  7. Karl, I was stunned by the information about the Tarot reading. I’m a unique interviewer in that way; no one else thought to ask. And because I have that part of my life, I was able to touch something unique, and that was so thrilling.

    Plus, as I said, it’s a mind-blowing reading. I would want to touch the hand of anyone who received it, you know? Like, wow, you’re in a special, magical place.

    Finishing the transcription job now frees my time to finish the Tarot interpretation, which is already about to start on page 3…not as long as this interview, but long.

  8. Thank you for this it was so great! So nice to ease Sunday night withdrawl. I can’t wait for the tarot reading! It makes total sense to me for any writer or artist to like tarot, it’s juicy. But it’s not surprising to hear he would have a really special and magical reading because it’s just not every day that someone is making something that he really is in love with and it comes out in a way that is just right, that is very exciting and magical. I think one of the best parts of this show is knowing it’s not just one of those happy accidents where people can’t take total credit and all that crap. It’s different because you know there is so much joy in crafting it and it’s not just a big fluke.

    It really is freaky to think that it’s not all outlined on a big huge roll of butcher’s paper tacked all across his bedroom room wall with arrows and venn diagrams and a timeline. MAYBE he does that for each season?

  9. It’s so interesting that he’s going for unpredictable, because to me, the one drawback about this season was that it ended up pretty predictable, at least the Don & Betty story. He comes back and she’s pregnant, how All My Children. But still, being Mad Men, it was handled with a lot more depth, but having a 60′s marriage “saved” by a pregnancy is anything but trailblazing.

    And then there was the Don is a hero at the office bit. We all knew Duck would get his, and Don would be victorious. yawn.

    The only thing that was a (very pleasant) surprise was Peggy being real with Pete. Oh, how I loved that scene. It was true to the characters, it had realism, it had compassion for both characters. It more than made up for the other stuff.

    Can’t wait for Deborah’s tarot post. Bizarre that Weiner got that reading, jeeze I wonder what was happening for him then!

  10. What’s interesting about Betty’s pregnancy is that Matt doesn’t see it as “saving” the marriage, he sees it as Betty being trapped. Which is agonizing. Yet I think that Don sees it as a save; a bitter save, but a save.

    Here’s a thought: It denies them each the out they wanted, but it also denies them the freedom to choose to stay. How can you ever freely say “I’m back here with you because I truly want to be” when there’s a pregnancy? Even if you do truly want to be, the opportunity to say it is gone.

    Shit, now I want to cry.

  11. I’ve only read 15% of the interview, but WOW! Kudos on the transcribing, it reads as live-you-are-there.

    My head hurts just at the though of how difficult it was to to do this transcription given MW’s speaking style

    I just had to comment because it’s going to take me some serious time to read and process this interview.

    Lipp Sisters you are amazing!

  12. #10 That’s what I meant by it being handled with a lot more depth than, say, All My Children. “Save” was in quotes because it really isn’t a save. Still, by standard plot criteria, taken at face value, it was predictable.

    When Don was out on his jaunt, I was always and only thinking to myself, “how are they gonna get Don back to SC and Betty and make it believable?” There wasn’t any time when I seriously entertained the notion that Don would actually drop out. I was a little disappointed that they did it with a cliche. An elegantly turned cliche, but still a cliche.

    And notice that I’m only talking about that last episode and how everything ended up. The meandering along the way had some great surprises. I loved “Hello, it’s Dick Whitman.” That knocked my socks off.

    btw, thanks for the interview. It’s awesome, and more probing than the professionals.

  13. Wow, that interview was impressive. You really do a unique job. I loved reading about all the ideas that were rejected and who would have guessed that Peggy’s speech was written out of context, unknown which character would say it. I think I have read every post season interview and that was the only time that came up.

    Also I loved the insight into Bobby Draper. I often just think of him as the less visible Draper child, I had not thought of him being a more plays independently type.

  14. As for the “saved” marriage being a bit cliche, I would argue that part of what MW seems intent on doing in MM is demonstrating the extent to which the community mores through most of the 60s did pressure people into certian types of relationships. MW seems to be doing this with Joan as much as he is with Betty — and contrasting it with the way the younger generation (Peggy, Kurt) are swimming against that tide, and perhaps helping turn it.

    And I was a bit surprised at how swiftly Duck imploded. I thought MW might have left that thread hanging until next season. Had Don not returned in the finale, the next season could have been about factions within S-C, Duck doing a slow implosion under the influence etc. Perhaps the quick resolution seemed a bitt too neat in the finale — but in the world of MM, it was not an arbitrary finale, merely a recognition that sometimes things blow up faster than you think they might.

    Also: In a “small talk” synopsis, you mention iTunes, and I know at least one person who watches the show that way outside of those who have said so here at BoK. If MW had any thoughts about the brave new world of multi-platforming a show, it would be cool to read about them.

  15. I am semi glad Matt Weiner put the Rachel Don story to rest. There is nothing there. I think I would have been pissed too if Don ran to Rachel, and Rachel accepting him. I am glad it is over. She deserved better anyways. Notice when she sees him at the restraunt, she has nothing for him, granted her husband was with her, but she right away noticed Bobbie, and yeah…she must have figured, “I could be Betty, at home waiting.” She wasnt Don’s match. Betty is his match, now that she is wiser, and grown up, she is just as much an equal to Don, and can stand for up for herself. BRAVO TO MATT!!

  16. Karl, B. Cooper: This is every word of the transcript, except the five minutes at the end that we lost, and the “iTunes small talk” that you noted. The latter was about how we (Roberta and I) watch the show, and was fundamentally uninteresting to anyone who isn’t us.

    Matt alluded to new media when he talked about business negotiations, but that was it.

  17. OK, I just think it would be interesting as you move fwd with interviews to broach the subject of how cast and crew are adjusting to the new media landscape. Rich Sommer has a blog; he doesn’t really use it as a promo vehicle, but to the extent that fans visit, it probably helps him and MM. Plus, he did the cute contest video with EM.

    It seems like he — and other MMers who have inteviewed with blogs like BoK — see the value in this sort of thing, so it might be interesting to see how — or at what point new media began to take a spot in their thinking about their careers. Obvs, the writers’ strike must have driven home the degree to which these alternate revenue streams are going to shape the future of their biz, but I imagine these sorts of issues have been lurking in their informal talks among themselves for considerably longer.

    Although MW has drawn certain parallels between the early 60s and now, perhaps one of the unstated parallels is that TV was emerging then, while the Internet is emerging now. Who will be the Harry Cranes of today?

  18. Karl, interesting thoughts for future interviews.

    I spoke to Rich last night for our interview. He and I have corresponded since nearly the beginning of BoK; I had that access because of his blog. All the cross/media promotion between his blog, Dyna Moe (Rich is the DM connection) and the Basket… it’s all an interesting relationship.

    I will say that he says that there are evenings after the baby is asleep, he’ll be sitting on the computer and he’ll find something on this site and read it to his wife (the Lovely Virginia) and they will discuss it. As an actor, his job is not ‘theme’, and so a lot of this is unexplored territory for him. Like so many Basketcases have said, these discussions help him enjoy the show more.

  19. I LOVE the rat-a-tat-tat rapport you have with our hero. Clearly he’s got a soft spot for both of you and all of the support / awe / admiration you aggregate in your BoK orbit.

    Basketcases are impressively insightful as they deconstruct episodes point by point and line by line. I wish I were as deep a thinker as a lot of you. My thing is I’m always the annoying one trying to predict what might happen next. (“Duck is toast” — remember me now?) So of course I was intrigued by a hint MW dropped in the interview, about next season possibly starting at a completely different agency. It’s the kind of completely unexpected twist you might expect from him–I can’t believe he even let that out! (But now that he did, I guess you can expect him NOT to do it.)

    I’m OBSESSED with trying to figure out where he’ll start next season and where all the characters will be. Will the new baby be 2 years old? Will Roger or Bert be dead? Will Duck be long gone and make appearances in flashback? Obviously he won’t touch the JFK assassination, he’s said that’s too well-trodden territory and what can he do with that. So–we’re just going to be in a brave new world, I think: 1964…Hard Day’s Night…the Beatles! Mod haircuts! But really now…how will I occupy myself (vis-a-vis TV shows to be obsessed with) between now and July?!?

  20. I personally doubt he’ll jump very far ahead. He loves the early sixties styles, and I just don’t think he wants to leave them too soon. I can’t believe he wants to start season 3 with sideburns and bell bottoms.

    As you say, he doesn’t want to do Kennedy’s assassination, but he could easily start next season where this one left off: Say, November 1962. He could start in January of 1963 and end in October; we know Kennedy will die in weeks but they don’t. Or he could do ’63 and skip the entire month of November.

    Or it could be ’64. But I don’t believe it will be later than ’64.

  21. This interview is so great! Tonight was the second time I read it and I’m sure I’ll be back.

    I guess there are two parts I would like to comment on. Forgive me if I’m not as eloquent as Matt and the Lipp Sisters. My background is in science and I always feel like the English Nazis will beat me up or someting:-)

    The first point that really interested me is when Matt talks about the bleakness of the human condition and how eventually we will all die, how there is sadness in that but there is joy in the life we get to experience. This is something I have dealt with in my mind for years and it’s the first time I’ve seen someone put my thoughts into words. I often find that it’s hard for me to be happy because of the sadness that comes with being human. I guess reading someone else’s thoughts on the subject may help me to think about it more.

    Secondly, I was thinking last night when I was walking around my neighborhood about what Matt said about racism, sexism, etc. being a way that we think of people as others. I live in California and like so many, am disgusted that Prop 8 passed, and it just made me think that women and blacks and many others were discriminated against in the past. It made me wonder how many women and minorities voted “yes” on 8 and I just really feel like so many people don’t get it. Sad.

    Again, thanks for an excellent interview. I’m already going through Mad Men withdrawals but we can get through this together:-)

  22. Single– so, so true about Prop 8. One giant leap backwards. And keep your comments coming!

  23. First, I just want to say how wonderful life is now that I have discovered you! I have been wandering the web for a place just like this! To say the least, I am obsessed with Mad Men!

    I was very happy to read this interview, how exciting that you both had the opportunity to speak with MW! It is a fantastic interview, thank you so much…. for everything.

  24. Prathers, thank you so much, and welcome to the Basket!

  25. [...] (Matt Weiner, Elisabeth Moss, Rich Sommer) [...]

  26. Are we to assume that Duck will be forced to Sterling Cooper, because he lost his temper over Don’s lack of a contract? That’s ridiculous and hard to buy. No, that’s ludicrous.

    Don had lost his temper with a potential client – namely Rachel – in the series’ premiere. In fact, he acted like a temperamental child. And yet, he kept his job. And now we’re expected for Duck will lose his over a similar act?

    Is it any wonder I find it more difficult to like the Don Draper character as this series continues?

    • Rosie, if Duck gets fired, it will not be by Don, who does not have that power; it will be by the new British owners, who have a long-standing distrust of Duck's drinking and have now seen a display of temper which may well be the last straw on the back of a long-suffering camel.

  27. As to what I said, we were speaking very rapidly so I didn’t make my whole point, but it is my observation in many social movements that there is high participation mostly from people who don’t have jobs: privileged people, retired people, and students. Because if you’re not in one of those categories, it’s a lot harder to take the day off of work to go ride the bus to Selma. And granted, many working people do make that sacrifice, but again, it’s easier to make the sacrifice if you have a financial cushion.

    I understand that it might be easier for a priviledged person to participate in something like that . . . but if a person had studied the Civil Rights Movement, he or she could see that a great number of underprivlidged people DID participate in the movement. They had sacrified a great deal. I'm only surprised that Weiner had not noticed or remembered this, during the interview.

    • Rosie, your conclusion, that Weiner had not noticed or remembered, defies belief. We were discussing the character of Paul, hence his remarks about privileged whites. Nowhere does he say that underprivileged people of color did not participate.

      Do you watch the show? Did you see the scene, that Weiner created, showing a bus full of African Americans?

  28. Are we to assume that Duck will be forced to Sterling Cooper, because he lost his temper over Don’s lack of a contract? That’s ridiculous and hard to buy. No, that’s ludicrous.

    I have a longer argument on this issue at the Mad Men livejournal community, but in short, I think you're misinterpreting the situation. I don't think that anybody wants to force Duck out. I think that Duck doesn't want to play second-fiddle to Don, and made it perfectly clear that as President of Sterling-Cooper, he would only permit Don to stay on under terms that Don found unacceptable. At any point during his last scene, Duck could have moderated his position, but he forced the owners to choose between him and Don.

    Since that was the choice before him, it's entirely logical that Powell opted for the superstar with the national reputation rather than the unstable alcoholic who had already left PP&L in disgrace two years earlier. It's not "ludicrous"; it's the most rational business decision that he could have made in that position.

  29. How is a display of temper supposed to be a sign of Duck’s drinking problem?

    I also have a problem with something Weiner said in his interview:

    MW: My favorite line in that whole story line is Paul saying to her, “Can’t it wait? Why can’t it wait?” That’s the understanding of it. And by the way, privileged white people who have good politics have made a huge difference in that world. They were very, very important to the world changing. I wasn’t just trying to ridicule him. They were the people that actually, I was trying to show, why do you go down there? It’s more complicated.
    RL: It’s sort of like, the straight women speaking up about AIDS is what helped move that along.
    MW: Right, absolutely. And the fact that the people who are activists are often, intolerant or insufferable or egotistical or whatever else it is, or privileged, y’know?
    DL: You kind of have to be privileged to be part of a movement because otherwise you can’t take time off of work.
    MW: Well, yeah. They talk about this with the Russian Revolution, it wasn’t made out of people growing up in poverty, it was a lot of sons of doctors that made the revolution happen.”

    What is Weiner exactly trying to say? That overprivileged white liberals were the most active in the Civil Rights movement? Their actions were the ones that counted? And what is with this statement that one has to be priviledged in order to participate in a social movement? What is he saying? That the majority of underprivlidged non-whites DID NOT participate in the Civil Rights movement?

    • Duck is mild-mannered when he's not drinking. When he drinks, he is "on fire," both in terms of being bold (positive) and in being temperamental (negative). These are people with a history with Duck, and an outburst means more to them as a result.

      As to the other, it means exactly what it says. I don't understand how you can possibly interpret the quote as saying "most active" or "the ones that counted" or any of the rest. Matt is acknowledging that even a supercilious blowhard can make a difference, and that there were people like Paul; annoying, self-important people who were maybe participating for the wrong reasons, who nonetheless made a big difference.

      As to what I said, we were speaking very rapidly so I didn't make my whole point, but it is my observation in many social movements that there is high participation mostly from people who don't have jobs: privileged people, retired people, and students. Because if you're not in one of those categories, it's a lot harder to take the day off of work to go ride the bus to Selma. And granted, many working people do make that sacrifice, but again, it's easier to make the sacrifice if you have a financial cushion. Anyone who has been involved in any sort of activism knows the presence of privileged people who are there to help–sometimes in an annoying blowhard way, sometimes not–is a given.

  30. Let me post this again:

    "DL: You kind of have to be privileged to be part of a movement because otherwise you can’t take time off of work.

    MW: Well, yeah. They talk about this with the Russian Revolution, it wasn’t made out of people growing up in poverty, it was a lot of sons of doctors that made the revolution happen."

    What is he trying to hint in the above remarks?

    • What do you think?

      Do you honestly, in all fairness, actually believe that Matt Weiner is "hinting" that the American Civil Rights movement was the product of privileged white people and that poor and working class blacks played no part in it? Is that your implication? Other than a tortured reading of a sentence about the Russian Revolution, do you see evidence of that elsewhere?

  31. I just want to say that I love scrounging around this site! I became a MM addict this summer, watching the first and second season on Comcast's On Demand. Only since season three began did I find this blog. I may not add the most intellectual comments but I enjoy reading every one else's!

    This interview is amazing, and gives even more character perspective.

    And for the record, I can't stand your posts, Rosie…

    Your comments aren't even "playing devil's advocate," as much as they show time and time again that you. just. don't .get. it. It's not the show you love to hate, you just hate it.

    There! I just added my first intelligent comment!

  32. JvJ, this is my favorite comment in the whole world.

  33. *blush* Aww, thanks RL. Every now and then I get one JUST right!

  34. [...] the Sun is the 19th tarot trump, which is used as the logo for Matt Weiner’s production. When we interviewed Matt after the S2 finale, we asked him about Anna Draper’s tarot reading, and that got into a [...]

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