Nov 202010

Rich Sommer tweeted on the Twitter about the fact that Season 5 is not an absolute certainty.  Hell broke loose.  Rich issued a clarification.  People chilled out. [Do you know how many handjobs Roger is going to have to give now? -K]

Vincent Kartheiser appeared on MSNBC to talk about his green lifestyle.

Ryan Reynolds may be People’s Sexiest Man Alive, but Jon Hamm was on the shortlist.

Jon Hamm also gave a Tootsie-inspired performance on Adult Swim, and hosted the debut of Backwash, a web series on Crackle written by and starring Josh Malina, along with Michael Panes and Michael Ian Black.

Elisabeth Moss will be a presenter at the 2010 International Emmy Awards.

John Slattery plans to make a short film based on a story heard on This American Life called “Squirrel Cop.”

Cara Buono is to play a recurring role on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters.

Chelcie Ross is profiled by ESPN magazine for his roles in three of the most popular sports movies of all time.

Rosemarie DeWitt will join Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass in an as-yet-untitled, semi-improvised film project, to be directed by Duplass.

Janie Bryant talked to The New Yorker about fashion on and off screen.

Matthew Weiner introduced James Salter, the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from PEN USA. is taking votes for the Best of 2010:  Mad Men is up for Best Drama; Jon Hamm is up for Best Serious Actor; and Elisabeth Moss is up for Best Serious Actress.

AMC’s revenue is up 71% since 2006.   Cablevision Systems Corp., the New York-based cable operator that owns Rainbow Media Holdings, parent of several cable networks including AMC, is considering spinning off the unit to shareholders.

Sterling’s Gold is deconstructed by real-life ad man Donny Deutsch.

Buysight has an infographic comparing what’s changed in advertising between the 1960s and today.

Variety compared Meg Whitman’s run for governor of California to Ho-Ho’s jai alai campaign.

The Chicago Tribune looks back at the rampant sexism in workplaces of the 60s and 70s.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel answers a reader’s question about Robert Morse’s work between How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Mad Men.

Ellen Burstyn and Carole King are joining Elisabeth Moss and Keria Knightley in the cast of The Children’s Hour next year.

The headline reads: Twig Antiques Celebrates New Location with ‘Mad Men’ Style Cocktail Party. Not normally an entry for Mad News, except that Twig Antiques happens to be in Rye, NY, new home of Betty and Henry Francis.

The Independent explores the merchandising of Mad Men. Meanwhile, Daily Finance points out that memoirs by fictional characters (like Sterling’s Gold, except, y’know, not) are a time-honored genre.

Jessica Pare is delighted to be able at last to talk about the show.

Kim Stagliano (no stranger to these parts) is casting the movie of her book.

Jezebel’s comprehensive Glossary of GIFs is a lot of fun. Basketcases will especially love “H.”

Christina Hendricks is pretty.

Mad News is compiled by Deborah and Karl — and Basketcases contributing in the sidebar.


  27 Responses to “Mad News, November 14-20, 2010”

  1. Ah, there’s absolutely no way AMC and Lions Gate is going to let this show off the air now. It goes as long as Weiner says it goes.

    AMC will keep Mad Men going for as long as it takes. Lions Gate might be a problematic as a studio, but they have a prize pig in Mad Men. They’d be absolutely nuts to let a multiple Emmy-winning show with huge cultural import (not to mention the wealthiest audiences on television, thus the highest paying advertisers) go to waste.

  2. What was the clarification that Rich Sommer gave? What is the holdup to the renewal? I remember at this time we had heard that MM had been renewed. I’m a bit concerned about this. Should I be?

    • Lianne, don’t be concerned. We have no inside news here, but we recently featured a news story pointing out that AMC’s income has vastly increased, and that increase is credited to Mad Men. Golden Goose and all that.

  3. So, I read Rich Sommer’s “clarification,” and while I feel some relief, I’d like to know what the holdup is? I know Lionsgate is having its troubles right now, but is that the reason? Is MM very expensive to produce?

  4. People need to remember that most actors lead a hand-to-mouth existence. IIRC, in MM’s pilot season, Rich went on dozens of auditions (due to his part in The Devil Wears Prada) and got nothing (dunno if that’s better or worse than Michael Gladis, who was having trouble getting auditions at all). It’s a career choice that makes you acutely aware of how transient work and money can be.

    Now Rich has a wife, kids, a house, etc. But the MM cast went through that whole period when it was Matt Weiner negotiating for a new contract, a continual reminder of how transient and crazy the biz can be. It’s completely responsible (though maybe not completely Hollywood) for Rich to be thinking about saving money and looking for work (he just shot stuff for CSI and Curb Your Enthusiasm) while the S5 negotiations are on. He propbably shouldn’t have issued a dire-sounding tweet — but it’s sorta endearing that Rich apparently didn’t think his tweets had that sort of impact.

  5. Ryan Reynolds?! Are they serious? Well, those lists are idiotic anyway.

  6. Plus, how long has Jon been 39? At least 3-4 years now.

  7. Donny,

    IMdB has Jon’s birthday listed as March 10, 1971. Maybe he has enough pull to get that reset annually, but probably not. 😉

  8. This is the time of year when traditionally Mad men contracts are being re-negotiated. The speculation that AMC’s profits are up does not mean AMC can afford to pay a huge increase in the license fee they pay LionsGate to produce MM. AMC announced they had renewed Mad Men before all the necessary contracts were signed.

    Every key member of the MM cast and crew is represented today by significantly more powerful agents/attorneys that back when the pilot was being cast.

    Following the success of Mad Men Season 2 re-negotiations with Matt Weiner dragged on forever. One result was to cover the extra license fee, AMC needed to sell an additional 2 minutes of commercials for each episode. After howls of protest from fans, AMC agreed to let each episode run 1:02 so no program material would be removed.

    Part of that deal was for production of Season 4. It is commonly believed in the business side of Hollywood that key principal performers re-signed for Season 3 and granted LionsGate an option for Season 4. It is also commonly believed that the only MM performers locked into an option for Season 5 are those added to the cast for Season 4 or those promoted to series regular principal contracts.

    This situation has to complicate re-negotiations. All the principal cast members have a pile of other offers. Several have made or are making mainstream feature films at significant fees, well above their “quotes” in 2007. It is a delicate dance between the money folks and the agents.

    Personally I am braced for the potential of beloved characters being written out and new characters, played by less expensive performers being added.

    Considering that Mad Men Season 5 is already pre-sold in my foreign markets, there is a massive incentive to make deals so production is ensured, with a Season 6 under option.

    Having been the nasty “bean counter” involved in production of many TV series and “franchise” feature films, I had to protect the financial well-being of my studio and its stockholders. Usually the decision to end production was based as much on the extent the studio could afford deficit financing when production cost exceeded license fees. In the case of my old studio almost always we decided to end production, yet often the press releases would blame cancellation of lack of fan support.

    Personally I want Mad Men to continue as long as Matt Weiner is interested in writing it. Over the years I felt the same way about several projects that I voted to end production.

  9. Donny and Karl,

    IMDB no longer entirely takes the word of those listed as to birth dates. Way back they did so. Now that such an extensive data base is available, IMDB compares the birth date supplied by a performer with other records. Should a performer not admit to being of a certain age, the date of birth is not listed, which is always an option for IMDB listing.

    What IMDB wants to avoid is the sort of time-line dispute such as the date of birth for “Dick Whitman” or “Lt Donald F Draper”

    Of course Jack Benny celebrated his 39th birthday for 40 years, but that was before IMDB!

  10. Is Jessica Pare the model for the illustrations in the article “Marriage: What’s It Good For?” in the 29 November issue of Time??

  11. C Carroll Adams,

    Interesting information. So not only is Matt negotiating his contract, then are all the other actors negotiating theirs a swell? Jon? Lizzie? John? Christina? Vince? I thought I read that January and Jared Harris signed for season 4 only. But I could be wrong. I can certainly understand the production and licensing issues being negotiated, but I would like to hear the news that Matt and MM and co. are returning soon, and very soon at that.

  12. # 12

    Nobody with certain knowledge of these contracts has spoken on the record.

    A few weeks ago Jessica Pare was quoted as saying she is under contract for Season 5 of Mad Men. Shortly after that a statement was issued saying she is under an option for Season 5. That would be standard industry practice. It is unthinkable a studio would sign a pay or play contract with a performer until all the contracts were in place for that season. Jessica has stated in interviews that she did not expect to appear so often in Season 4. It is would be hard to believe once her part as Megan became so central that the producers had any doubt she would be available for Season 5, most likely by way of an option. This strongly suggests that during production of Season 4 Jessica signed a regular principal contract.

    It is possible that when Jarred Harris was cast for Season 3 his deal only included an option for Season 4. My experience is that it is far more likely his Season 3 contract was as a recurring, with no fixed guaranteed number of episodes. Jarred Harris has said he himself was not certain he would appear in more than a single episode of Season 3. It is commonly believed he signed an improved regular principal cast contract for Season 4, which almost certainly included an option for Season 5.

    Chances are that Hamm, Moss, Slattery, Vince K and Christina Hendricks all worked under a Season 4 option, meaning all are re-negotiating from a very strong bargaining position. Robert Morse might well have only wanted a recurring guest star contract, meaning he probably does not have an option for Season 5.

    Bottom line is every member of the cast has done outstanding work on Mad Men. They all deserve increased pay. Unfortunately Mad Men must be produced on a moderate budget. Chances are some cast either will need to re-sign with a minimum raise, or the original principal cast must be reduced. Season 5 could retain some original cast and new characters played by performers with near minimum quotes.

    Chances are strong that Matt Weiner has not started writing Season 5 outlines already because he is not currently under contract. Once he is under contract he needs to be sure which characters will be written out and which will be available.

    Think about the cost of building a set for the Rye house of Henry and Betty. Maybe Don and Megan will keep and only redecorate the Ossining house, which would save on set construction. Then the stage space used for Don’s Waverly Place apartment could hold a minimum set for the Rye house.

    Trust me, I am so glad I retired from the studio and no longer have to count all those beans! I get to sit back and be entertained 13 times a season without any of my money invested.

  13. As Karl pointed out, from an actor’s standpoint Rich Sommer was absolutely right to take a, “no news could be bad news” viewpoint. It’s very practical and that way you’re not going to be as disappointed if the news is not good. But, I can see why people panicked. 🙂

    Glad to hear about Cara Buono on “Brothers and Sisters.” Although the show has not been as good lately (especially since I abandoned it during Mad Men’s season–and now my Sunday nights at 10 pm really pale in comparison), I’m glad to see CB get another role, as I thought she was very good on Mad Men. She really seemed so much different on MM than in any thing I’d seen her in before. (I think she’s pretty versatile!)

  14. Mad Men is done, people. Accept the fact that The Walking Dead is the new jewel of AMC. Not only does it bring in two times more viewers (an average of 5 million versus just 2.5 for Mad Men, and this is only its first season! – viewership can only increase from here as it receives more accolades) and is easier to sell, but it’s also based on a proven graphic novel, which means that Darabont has enough material to cover multiple seasons.

    Mad Men’s streak as “best drama” will likely come to an end in 2011, for the simple fact that voters will be reluctant to give the award to a cable series for a fourth consecutive year. As a result, much of its critical prestige will fade, leaving AMC with a floundering series that doesn’t bring in strong ratings. They’ve actually ordered their second period piece, Hell on Wheels, which further indicates that Mad Men’s run is coming to a close. I can see that show, which is apparently modeled after the Western genre, bringing AMC stronger ratings because its rugged plot will be more appealing to a mainstream audience.

    R.I.P. Mad Men (2007-2010)

  15. Mad Men is certainly not done. Season 4 was the most watched and the best of the serie. And despite the ratings it’s still AMC’s most popular show + best sells on itunes and amazon.

  16. Thanks to C. Carroll Adams for all the inside baseball. As somebody who sorta-kinda pays attention to the production end of the industry from an outsider’s perspective, I generally knew that the longer a series runs, the more expensive it is to produce. It’s much appreciated that C. Carroll broke it down for us in such a clear way.

    It’s inevitable that every time contract negotiations happen it’s a delicate dance over money–who wants it (and who doesn’t want it, c’mon), how much the studio is willing to spend, etc., etc. Despite the hyperbolic comments of #15, it’s unlikely that AMC will choose to cancel rather than produce a fifth (and probable sixth, as a package deal) season. Walking Dead is doing gangbusters for the network, and I’m sure will influence whatever future projects are greenlit, but you can’t build a network on only one series. Both Mad Men and Breaking Bad have critical buzz, Walking Dead is a genuine mass-appeal hit. It’s good for AMC to have both; it’s momentum. Why undercut that growth by getting rid of any of these series now?

    Sure, at one point in the future, if AMC makes more gains in other higher-rated series, an older, more financially top-heavy series like MM will be weighed against them on a cost-benefit perspective; that’s the nature of the beast. Mad Men will not go on indefinitely. But I can see another two seasons being squeezed out, at least, with cost adjustments impacting cast decisions as C. Carroll outlines above. I’m always amused that everything is always seen through the perspective of some people as an either/or, like some kind of sports event: if Walking Dead wins, that means Mad Men or Breaking Bad loses. It doesn’t. Why not enjoy all three series for as long as they can last?

    I’m not sure what AMC’s stake in Mad Men’s international revenue is (maybe C. Carroll can touch on that?), but I would hazard to say that the series is probably a bigger hit in overseas markets than it is here. So that has to be taken into consideration in any discussion about money.

    What I think is interesting was that AMC likely anticipated complicated re-negotiations, and has adjusted their schedule accordingly. Breaking Bad, which had usually premiered in the spring, is returning in the summer of 2011. The quick renewal of Walking Dead probably means a second season in the summer as well. Which means that Mad Men will premiere in the fall at the earliest, with possibly a spring 2012 rollout if contract negotiations stall.

  17. Thanks spike and C Carroll Adams for the info. I hadn’t considered MM premiering at another time, since it’s always been in July/August. But with BB premiering in the summer of 2011, I can see where that would happen, even though I would be disappointed in the long delay. And I happen to enjoy The Walking Dead, and like the variety that AMC is showing. I never really thought MM had a big cast, so it’ll be interesting to see what if anything, happens with changes to cast. Truth is, I hate negotiating season, in anything. Sports, entertainment. It can get so nasty, and most of the time, no one really gets all the things they’ve asked for.

  18. I believe it is Carol Kane starring with Ellen Burstyn, Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss in The Children’s Hour. A little different than Carole King.

  19. I think it’s funny that Sommer’s catching a lot of flak for his remark; but Jessica Pare’s similar remark at the end of the article you linked is flying under the radar.

    For now, Pare isn’t worrying about what will happen to her character on Mad Men.

    “We don’t even know if there will be a fifth season, but I would be surprised and disappointed if it didn’t come back,” she said, adding that it is too soon to tell if this is the role that will shoot her to superstardom. “I am proud of my work, but I don’t want to jinx it.”

    Makes you wonder what’s going on in those negotiations if Season 5 isn’t set in stone.

  20. BB has I think 5 or 6 cast regulars; MM this past season had, what, 10 or 11? It’s possible that January Jones could be bumped down to recurring guest star status (I think it’s unlikely she and her agent would want that, though), even more likely (I would say probable) for Robert Morse. Jessica Pare will likely be made a regular, but depending on how big a role she’ll play next season she could also be a recurring. Pare’s rate as a regular will certainly be substantially less than the senior cast members. Kiernan Shipka could be bumped back to recurring, but I doubt it. In a fifth/sixth season deal, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Jared Harris and even Slattery could be written out of the series or otherwise have their roles reduced. All the other regulars are probably safe, unless they want to be let out to pursue feature roles.

    Also, actors aside, long-term writers tend to get promoted up to producer level, which adds additional cost.

  21. So, does AMC, Lionsgate or Matt decide whether an actor or writer gets upgraded or downgraded? I had forgotten that there were so many cast regulars on MM. Thanks spike:)

  22. One thing that will help renewal, if just a bit, is that Sky Television (yet another Murdoch operation) has just outbid the BBC for future seasons in the UK. While the BBC was paying £65,000 per episode, Sky has agreed to pay £225,000 per episode. That’s £2.9 mil, or c. $4.5 million per season. Sky also broadcasts to much of Europe so perhaps they have more lined up. I don’t know how far this goes, but it can’t hurt, and shows AMC must at least be expecting that there will be future seasons.

  23. Lianne:

    Ultimately, Matt decides on whether a character is upgraded or downgraded in terms of the story he wants to tell. But as an executive producer, he does have a responsibility to bring a production in on budget. So there is a balancing act where story needs have to always be weighed against cost.

    Actors negotiate their contracts individually, though. It’s probably unlikely that an actor would ever willingly want to be demoted from a regular to a recurring, unless they wanted the freedom to pursue other roles that a regular cast contract would prohibit them from doing. I would guess an actor would likely choose to leave the series rather than re-negotiate for a reduced rate, though. Nobody likes a demotion, after all, and you can’t blame an actor for wanting to use as much of their negotiating power to get the best deal for themselves.

    So even if Matt wanted to, say, diminish Betty’s role in the series, he could just write less of Betty. As a regular, though, January Jones would still be paid for the season, even if she didn’t appear in much of it. So there’s no reason she would want less money as a recurring. An older actor like Morse might be more amenable to taking a reduced role, but if he didn’t the producers could exercise their option to not bring him back, if they wanted to save some money and if Bert Cooper wasn’t seen as an essential character.

    So there are a lot of variables to juggle, and like you said, most of the time no one gets everything they asked for.

  24. Thanks spike. I knew little to nothing about this stuff. Much appreciated:)

  25. If we operate under the assumption that some characters will leave and be replaced by others, then who leaves, who stays and who will be demoted ?

    Harry Crane is superfluous to the show at this point. In S1 his conversation with Don created a spark which led to “The Wheel”. During a conversation with another character in S2 or S3 (I can’t recall which), he cohesively articulated the the silent majority conservative viewpoint that would later develop as a foil to the 60’s counterculture. If his character were to continue in this vein, I can see Crane’s relevance as we move into the late 60’s. Instead we have a self absorbed putz who is more impressed with his new LA contacts than fitting in back at SCDP. He wont be missed.

    Bert Cooper. Unfortunately the show can continue with a diminished role for Robert Morse. For all intents and purposes, SCDP is Don Draper’s company. Bert realized this and walked out in disgust. The future of the company will not depend on Bert, but rather on Don, Peggy and Pete.

    Roger. With the loss of Lucky Strike, he is a man without a job. Unless he can bring in another large client….if not then his role can be logically reduced. This would be a disappointment because his wit and chemistry with Draper would be missed.

    Sally and Bobby. I know I know. With the new Draper marriage there is the opportunity to present the new Draper home as a stable influence on Don’s children. Don’s interaction with Sally in S4 shed a lot of light into Don’s inner struggles. If the show becomes more about Don and less about the Ad business and company, then the kids should have an increased role. But the show is about the Advertising Business in the 60’s and the saga of Don Draper. In adjusting the balance, you can easily reduce the children’s role without taking much away from the show.

    Meagan Draper. If she were to resign as Don’s secretary to become a housewife then it would be logical to reduce her visibility on the show.

    Betty and Henry. MW has stated that Betty will remain a part of the show and a part of Don’s life because of their children. Can Betty be reduced to a guest star ? That is for her agent and the AMC execs to work out. Henry Francis on the other hand can be written out. We know that their marriage is not in good shape and it appears that Henry is becoming increasingly frustrated with is childish wife. Are we being set up for a divorce ? If so, a natural exit for him.

    Layne Pryce. Does a much smaller SCDP need a full time business manager? If the firm becomes a smaller boutique shop, how can you justify a highly paid administrator ?

    Abe (Peggy’s boyfriend). Depending on how far in the future S5 is set, Abe can be involved or not. Personally I think Abe can help Peggy develop outside of the office in a way that would complement her in office progress. He (and her friend from Life) will expose her to all sorts of interesting developments in Downtown NYC that will certainly have an impact on her professional thought process. But if due to costs and other issues, he is not around, it can be justified.

    Pete, Peggy and Joan will stay for obvious reasons.

    Your thoughts ?

  26. “Who can you live without?”

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