Mad News, September 24-29, 2009

 Posted by on September 29, 2009 at 10:41 am  Actors & Crew, Matthew Weiner, Media-Web-News
Sep 292009

AdRants has an intriguing article on the branding of the Mad Men era.

Here’s the fine print on the Hilton “Live Like a Mad Man” sweepstakes rules, with instructions for entering without purchase.

Salon uses Mad Men’s Oprah appearance to examine the intersection of nostalgia for, and critique of, the early 1960s.

Stuart Elliott solves the Dr. Pepper mystery.

Chris Matthews uses Mad Men as an analogy on Hardball (around the 2 minute mark).

The Vulture interviews Rich Sommer about Jennifer, lawn mowers, and more.

Another article on the Mad Men silhouette in men’s fashion.

Staff changes that affect Mad Men:

AMC Thursday tapped veteran television executive Susie Fitzgerald to head up the newly created position of senior vice president of scripted development.

Consumer Reports blogs about the vacuum cleaner that was the subject of an argument between the Harrises in My Old Kentucky Home.

Basketcase Hazel alerted us to an award January Jones received on September 24 for her work with Oceana.

Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe defends Mad Men’s slow pace.

The St. Petersburg Times longs for the days of Mad Men’s good manners.

I stumbled across the Peggy Olson tag on The Frisky and found a wealth of good stuff there. There’s also a Mad Men tag, which has, like, everything.

John Slattery and Talia Balsam will appear on stage in Cedar City, an 8-episode live soap in New York City.

My (Deborah’s) best friend sent me a link to Mod Cloth, which has vintage wear.

Salon’s Heather Havrilesky sinks her teeth into the season so far.

The Defamer speculates that Guy McKendrick was fictional revenge taken on a real person. The comment section goes wild on other such fantastical rumors.

I cannot find who originally mentioned it in prior comments, but Matt Weiner talked to NPR’s On Point Radio about Season 3.

Entertainment Weekly salutes Alexa Alemanni’s portrayal of Allison.

Tyler Shields has posed a fine photo and video portrait of Alison Brie on his blog.

BuzzSugar has a photo gallery of Mad Women branching into new roles.

The New York Times explores the effect of media and internet buzz on television shows.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette waxes ecstatic about Mad Men’s mid-century home design.


  19 Responses to “Mad News, September 24-29, 2009”

  1. Regarding the AdRants article …

    The author states: The show's producer David Chase, quoted in The New York Times the month Mad Men debuted, described it this way: "Here was… a story about advertising in the 1960s, and was looking at recent American history through that prism."

    I'm not sure how seriously we should take anything this article has to say, given that the author is apparently unaware that David Chase doesn't produce Mad Men!

  2. Basketcases: If you do nothing else today, be sure to listen to the full interview with Matt Weiner on NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook. It's excellent!

    Not only is Mad Men the best show on television, but it has the sharpest fans around. I already knew this before listening, of course, but this interview increased my appreciation of that.

    Matt holds the viewers in such high regard, which just adds to the magic of the show!

  3. AdRants author Tom Parrette starts out saying he is not a fan of Mad Men, then as others noticed claims David Chase is the producer. Although I disagree about the merits of MM, I admit Parrette is entitled to his opinion.

    Clearly he does not know how to do research on IMDb. First he would know that Matthew Weiner created and produces Mad men.

    Second Parrette should know that despite being a marvelous film, A Thousand Clowns only won a single Oscar out of four nominations. Back at that time in 1965 it was generally believed with the AMPAS membership and movie industry that although nominated for his performance in A Thousand Clowns, Martin Balsam won based on the body of his work far more than for the single role. Thus even today it is disingenuous to term A Thousand Clowns an "Oscar-winning" film.

  4. # 5 – "it is disingenuous to term A Thousand Clowns an “Oscar-winning” film"

    C Carroll Adams, you seem to be unclear on either the meaning of the word "disingenuous," or you don't fully grasp the concept "to win".

    A Thousand Clowns won an Oscar, so it is, therefore, "an Oscar-winning film".

    Also, Mad Men was up for 16 Emmys this season and it only nabbed three (Best Drama, for Writing & for Hairstyling). That doesn't mean it's not an Emmy-winning series.

  5. SmilerG,
    In fact I do understand all uses of the word disingenuous.

    Having been an Oscar voting member of AMPAS since 1961, I was here in Hollywood when A Thousand Clowns was released and paid close attention to its Oscar "for consideration" campaign.

    Look, all of us have promoted our films as "Oscar Winner" despite knowing a single acting Oscar was more about the popularity of the performer. I was pointing this out in the case of Martin Balsam and A Thousand Clowns.

    Of course you might have been there for that same Oscar season and have differing memories.

    My concern was that Tom Parrette clearly knows nothing about Mad Men as a series. To me he also has no insight into the ways of Hollywood, AMPAS and the promotion of motion pictures as a business and not as art.

    If people want to term the movie containing a performance as an "Oscar Winner" that is their right. As a long-time AMPAS member I am entitled to consider claiming this in publicity to be disingenuous. Who knows, if a movie I am trying to sell in the future wins for a performance I am hardly above shouting it is an "Oscar Winner"

    Based on MM winning two consecutive Best Drama awards from ATAS there is no question it is an "Emmy-Winning" series. The hair styling and writing Emmies are also deserved. Yes, I am a voting member of ATAS and was there when the Creative Arts awards were given the week before the Prime Time Emmy event.

  6. Yeah … so … the Sesame Street "Mad Men" bit is up. It's silly.

    The first three seconds are the best part; the last three are the second best (because I like the idea of kids asking their parents what "sicko pants" means).

  7. Following MM 306 there was a flurry of posts about distribution of Dr. Pepper in NYC prior to the 1970's.

    Think about this: Canada Dry has been and continues to be a major sponsor of Mad Men. They are a division and brand of Dr. Pepper Snapple. Clearly the powers that be at Dr. Pepper Snapple had to cooperate to get that vending machine along with authentic bottles to the MM set in Los Angeles. If it was impossible to but a bottle of Dr. Pepper in July 1963 in Manhattan would they allow this scene to take place?

    A better question is the fate of the responsible parties at John Deere. That vintage riding lawn mower came from somewhere fully restored in factory-new paint. John Deere is still very much in business. The attorneys for AMC and LionsGate would have required a waiver from John Deere.

    Perhaps the problem was that whoever at John Deere did not read the script. That sure could explain why AMC needed to run the disclaimer on their website saying "John Deere did not participate in the production of this episode"

    Perhaps whoever signed the waiver has already been transferred to the Calcutta sales office.

  8. While we are thinking about several recent episodes of MM, let me add my thinking about the Bye Bye Birdie and Ann-Margret scenes.

    On 25 Sept Francesk offered some hypotheticals based on current entertainment law. None of that was in effect in April 1963 when Bye Bye Birdie was released in road-show and the Mad Men episode took place.

    Also on 25 September FreelanceWoman mentioned that ASCAP is a song writers union. ASCAP is a performance rights licensing organization, as is BMI. They license only music "mechanical rights" such as making records and performance of the music in restaurants. Use of music in scripted entertainment is covered by "synchronization" rights which are far more complicated to arrange, since they require approval of the authors, arrangers and publishers. If a particular performance is to be used as "source" music then the singers and musicians also must approve. All must be paid.

    What is unknown are the terms of Ann-Margret's contract for Bye Bye Birdie. At that time people working under my direction at another major movie studio prepared such contracts, all of which were boiler-plate in Hollywood. In those days ancillary uses were unknown, so were not covered. Only the top tier of stars would have approval of use of clips, but Ann-Margret would have the right to approve and be paid for her performance in a commercial. However, she would not have been asked to approve, nor would she have been compensated, if a look-alike made the commercial using the same music and custom lyrics. The concept of right of publicity as a tort was in the future.

    To me the far more fascinating litigation issue is the use of the clip on Mad Men. Under current law and SAG contract Ann-Margret was entitled to approve and be compensated for use of that clip.

    Days after the episode was shown Ann-Margret issued a statement to the entertainment press along the lines she received a phone call from an East Coast friend about the opening of Mad Men, so Ann-Margret had the chance to see it on the West Coast. That clip took her by surprise.

    Okay, so who signed the waiver for Ann-Margret and who received the payment from LionsGate? Now these are questions that could very well form the basis of litigation.

  9. Got a kick out of Michael Smerconish in the Hardball clip predicting Peggy will be head of SC in a couple more seasons.

    I love it when Mad Men references show up in unlikely places. ESPN, for example. On Pardon The Interruption Michael Wilbon regularly calls MM the best show on T.V. and has converted partner Tony Kornheiser to the same point of view. On Around The Horn, host Tony Reali could hardly contain himself on the Monday after “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency,” expressing utter disdain for one panelist who admitted he didn’t watch the show.

  10. In the NPR's On Point interview, Matt states that the theme for Season 3 is "chaos." In her Numerology post, Deb points out that in the Tarot "23 is the number of Chaos."

  11. And in an odd case of life imitating art … we have January Jones going to Washington DC to lobby congress for passage of a bill which would deter shark finning in US waters, or something like that.

    Is it Sen. McCain, or Grandpa Gene? Hope he didn't feel her up by accident!

  12. @8,
    Speaking as a first-generation Sesame Street kid (came on air when I was in kindergarten…we used to have field trips to the studio to watch them film) who has continued watching to this day, I must say that Mr. Draper was THE hunkiest muppet I've ever seen!

  13. # 7 – "Of course you might have been there for that same Oscar season and have differing memories."

    C Carroll Adams, there's really no need to be snotty.

  14. The Salon piece was especially good. I do admit that this season has taken on a dramatically different tone than previous ones. It's much darker than even Season Two.

    That being said, MW has indicated that the show is as much about our contemporary era as it is about 1963. This has been a pretty surreal, extreme year for America in general. Can't say it's been a particularly good one, either. Maybe MW is merely reflecting the tumult and insanity that America has had to endure in 2009.

    I suppose there's also an argument that it was inevitable MM was going to go down this road, anyway. Dramas can't survive on the same formulas (*cough* Lost, *cough*, Desperate Housewives, *cough*) for years on end without some creative or narrative evolution anymore.

  15. I've an observation on Tom Parrette's piece for AdRants, tangential to the interesting comments already posted. In his concluding remarks, Parrette has the following to say:

    "Is [Mad Men] the artistic triumph that people claim it is? I'm still not convinced. Stripped of its iconic 60s couture and interiors, it seems like a fairly typical primetime drama."

    Perhaps branding is now understood by its practitioners as absolutely detachable from the thing branded; I'm happily not in a position to comment. But as a critique of television fiction, Parrette's implication that there is an unremarkable 'real' Mad Men, lurking beneath clever branding, seems to me frankly wrong-headed. One might simply ignore this critique, were it not for the fact that it perpetuates a raft of ill-considered assumptions which are, alas, all too easy to run across in all kinds of television criticism, from the informal to the very formal.

    There is something very slippery and dangerous about the idea that outward appearances are not intrinsic to a dramatic fiction. To say that Mad Men is remarkable because of its exquisite visual style should not actually be to demean it, as Parrette intends, for this visual style is NOT merely the window dressing, the 'glamor' (in the old sense of a deceiving spell). Style is intrinsic to what Mad Men is — as it ALWAYS is in television, however apparently unremarkable that styling might superficially seem. Perversely, given his supposed area of competence, Parrette devalues visual imagery by implying that there is an 'interior,' or something 'beneath' the surface which can be laid bare by someone cunning enough to bypass the glamor. This is a metaphor (and a prejudice) as old as European dramatic criticism: Aristotle in his Poetics favored the 'inward' over the 'spectacular,' and his shadow apparently looms large over us. Parrette seems to want us to acknowledge that what we see is not really what we get with Mad Men, to jolt us out of the glamor's enthrallment. But with screen media, what you see is in a very real sense not just what you get, but ALL you get.

    I'm probably preaching to the converted in saying all this, but the point seemed worth making, because Mad Men raises interesting issues about how as a society we seem to view "authenticity" — and it's always, apparently, something "stripped."

    • PDB, that's an interesting observation. It's a lot like saying "Stripped of its great writing and direction, it seems like a fairly typical primetime drama.” That's also true, you know. If it wasn't brilliantly written it would be, what? A philandering husband, an accidental pregnancy. There are no new plots since Shakespeare, after all.

  16. Mad Men is the cover story in the October issue of American Cinematographer, volume 90, no. 10. Great background information on the lighting and the sets.

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