Mar 242015

2015-03-21 19.34.31

This is Part 1 of what may become an epic write-up. Stick with Basket of Kisses for continued coverage of all things Matthew Weiner, and more Lincoln Center goodness.

On Saturday, March 21, 2015, the Film Society of Lincoln Center hosted a Mad Men: The End of an Era panel discussion with Matthew Weiner, Jon Hamm, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, and John Slattery, moderated by Chuck Klosterman. Who else was there? The Lipp sisters (accompanied by Deborah’s Professor Spouse)!

The packed house (the beautiful Alice Tully Hall seats over a thousand people) was enthusiastic, applauding wildly, laughing, cheering. The format was simple. Each panelist had a chance to select clips, which were played and then discussed. Klosterman didn’t always make it clear whose clips were whose choices, but it didn’t matter. The format really opened up discussion.

First clip was Matt’s choice: Roger and Peggy negotiating over surreptitious work in Mystery Date (Episode 5.04). When asked to explain the choice, he said simply that he wanted to see it play in front of an audience, because he enjoys hearing the laughter. He added that he loves comedy, which was where he started, and that, between seasons 4 and 5, he became “fascinated” by negotiation (this insight got quite a laugh), although this was the only place in Mad Men the fascination appeared.

Hey Trotsky, you’re in advertising.

Somehow this segued into a long discussion of the blackface scene in My Old Kentucky Home (Episode 3.03). Seeing the script was one of several occasions when John Slattery turned to Matt and said, “Well, there goes my career.” It was difficult to film; Slattery was incredibly embarrassed to be standing around in makeup waiting to shoot (“Can’t I put it on when they call me?”), roger-blackfaceand the first take, reaction shots were nothing but dropped jaws. (Matt noted that it was in fact shoe polish; it couldn’t just look like makeup). He explains they tried very hard to let the audience know that their point of view was AGAINST blackface, using the person of Don to embody that. Pete also objected strongly, and Klosterman asked about that. Matt responded that New York City has a long history of liberalism among its very privileged, both Democrats and Republicans, and “Pete is a New York liberal.” Matt then turned to the audience and said, “What, no applause for ‘liberal’?” and we obliged him. (Roberta thinks the hesitance wasn’t for “liberal” so much as the Peter Campbell version of it.)

Matthew Weiner also said that My Old Kentucky Home was structured like A Midsummer’s Night Dream to reflect the different classes of beings (fairy, gentles, ordinary folk). (Our own Anne B. is maybe the only writer on the Internet who saw that connection at the time.) The episode is about class, he told us. And it’s about what white people are like when they’re alone.


  16 Responses to “Matthew Weiner and the Cast of Mad Men at Lincoln Center Part 1: What do we, and we alone, know about My Old Kentucky Home. Also, why Pete doesn’t like blackface.”

  1. “And it’s about what white people are like when they’re alone.”

    Anne B. is going to love this. She is one of the most intelligent, literary, savvy writers I’ve ever known. I’d say that even if she wasn’t slicing vegetables in the next room with a giant knife.

    • Those are the nuggets Matt throws out that I just die over. It’s just a few words and it’s HUGE.

    • I remember the hints at A Midsummer Night’s Dream in that episode: the first was Connie Hilton describing himself as the guy with the head of the ass, but there were many others.

      Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew’d thee once:
      The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
      Will make or man or woman madly dote
      Upon the next live creature that it sees.

      That’s Oberon, describing how “love-in-idleness” works to Puck. It’s also a great description of what happens to Betty when Henry first approaches her. There are also disguises, singing, dancing, and even a full moon in this episode. It’s such a good fit.

      At the time, I longed for something like Puck’s benediction at the end (“Give me your hands, if we be friends”), but I’m now sure that would have disturbed the narrative. Don was angry with Roger, and Roger was disappointed that Don wasn’t happy for (and with) him.

      Speaking of Roger: he’s not the only one of our friends who’s done “blackface.” In a live episode of 30 Rock, Jon Hamm plays a character who tries it, until Tracy Morgan hits him with a chair. Remember?

      • I had that episode with Jon Hamm on 30 Rock saved forever. It was HYSTERICAL and at least he did have it more as brown with just a few streaks across his face here and there which made it funnier. BANJO!!!!

  2. I was sitting in the 2nd row!
    Do you know why Vincent K. wasn’t there as promoted?

    • Roberta had Row F. Melissa and I had Row Q. Melissa gave her better seat to Roberta so we could sit together, because she is so sweet.

    • And no; no idea why Vinnie was MIA–I’d forgotten he was on the original promo materials. Lizzy is doing Heidi Chronicles on Broadway, of course.

  3. […] This is Part 2 of our write-up of the amazing Mad Men: The End of an Era panel discussion at Lincoln Center. Part 1 is here. […]

  4. [” Matt responded that New York City has a long history of liberalism among its very privileged, both Democrats and Republicans, and “Pete is a New York liberal.””]

    New York City? I’ve read the opposite about that particular city. This is the same city that had a large Loyalist following during the American Revolution and was strongly anti-abolitionist during the antebellum and Civil War years.

    • Um, can’t speak to 18th or 19th Century, but 20th and 21st Century has always been known as a bastion of liberalism, so much so that far-right conservatives will refer to “the real America” as the Midwest, specifically excluding the coasts, which are too liberal to be considered American, I guess. Like everyplace, New York has people who are everywhere on the political spectrum, but wealthy New Yorkers have a long tradition of liberalism, going back to the Rockefellers at least.

      • So true, New York has pockets of every political stripe, but is known for its progressive philosophies. The Upper West Side and most of Greenwich Village are traditionally liberal. However there are parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island that make Iowa look like Berkeley.

  5. […] of Matthew Weiner at the Museum of the Moving Image, and Matt with the cast at Lincoln Center (Part 1, Part 2)? Great stuff.  Vulture was also at the Museum appearance. The Boston Globe and Vulture […]

  6. Kudos to Anne B for the amazing catch w/”A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”

    May be MW being so forthcoming about the Shakespearean influence in MM could indicate a Shakespearean element to the remaining episodes.

  7. With the “Midsummer’s Night Dream” influence on “Old Kentucky Home,” it’s interesting that the promo picture for S7.2 are literally right out of the OKH Derby party, down to Megan’s dress being a version of Betty’s dress.

    If only MW would say of everything since “Tomorrowland”

    “If we shadows have offended,
    Think but this, and all is mended,
    That you have but slumber’d here
    While these visions did appear.
    And this weak and idle theme,
    No more yielding but a dream,
    Gentles, do not reprehend:
    if you pardon, we will mend”

    If only, if only.

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