Well the deal is closed; so in the spirit of “Mad Men,” it’s time to hit the bars and get loaded. After months of stalling and negotiations, Deadline Hollywood is reporting that “Mad Men” will be returning for a fifth season on AMC. It was dicey there for a while and fans have been waiting for some sign of life from for the critically-acclaimed series. Don Draper will once again grace the silver screen but not until January of 2012. Their official statement: “AMC has officially authorized production of season 5 of Mad Men, triggering our option with Lionsgate. While we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key non-cast negotiations, Mad Men will be back for a fifth season in early 2012.”
Signs of trouble were evident last fall when one of the cast members, Rich Sommer, tweeted that he wasn’t sure there would be a season 5 of “Mad Men” and that he was working under the assumption that there wouldn’t be. Problems arose between Lionsgate, the production company, and AMC, the distributor over the cost per episode.
Lionsgate produces the series for roughly $2-million dollars an episode. That includes rising talent fees for all the stars and writers. Matt Weiner, Executive Producer and creator of the show, reportedly asked Lionsgate for $30-million dollars over three years, a deal that would make him one of the highest paid showrunners in ad-based cable according to the Hollywood Reporter. AMC and Lionsgate have not officially stated whether Weiner will continue with the show.
Weiner’s deal is still in negotiations with AMC and Lionsgate. The studio and distributor are pushing for cost cutting measures. They want to shorten each episode by two minutes, fire six series regulars and include more product placement. Two minutes doesn’t sound like much for an hour-long show, but that can be an entire scene. And, “Mad Men,” set in an ad agency, already feels saturated by product placement.
Perhaps the largest hurdle “Mad Men” encountered before renewal had nothing to do with the series at all; it was the success of the new original series, “The Walking Dead.” The success of “Dead” whetted AMC’s appetite for new series and they’ve since filled their schedule with other newcomers including “The Killing” and “Hell on Wheels.” So, while fans will get their fix of “Mad Men,” it won’t be until the network’s schedule permits, January 2012. In the meantime they can enjoy some quality time with zombies as “The Walking Dead” returns this fall.