Well, so much for Matt Weiner’s negotiations with Lionsgate and AMC getting close. AMC has officially announced that season five will moving ahead, despite a deal with Weiner not being in place. Here’s their 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."
Early 2012? That’s a pretty substantial delay. Deadline has even more details about the ongoing negotiations. Wiener would make about $30 million over the next two years with the new deal that’s being discussed. What’s holding it up is his resistance to certain things AMC/Lionsgate are calling for:
“Integrating product placement into the series, cutting 2 minutes from each episode's running time in favor of more commercials and eliminating/reducing two regular cast members to save money.”
These measures are, of course, aimed at cutting the cost of the show, which, despite its huge successes, doesn’t pull in the monster ratings that other network heavyweights do. Now, I’ve got to say that for the most part I think Weiner is doing the right thing by resisting some of the requests. Product placement in a show that revolves around an advertising agency could have a heavy impact on the actual story being told in each episode. The same can be said about cutting out two cast members. Mad Men is a standout because of its storytelling and I’d certainly be wary of anything that could have an effect on the actual writing of the series.
That being said, I think the both parties will eventually come to some kind of compromise. The running time is something that can certainly be negotiated. Previously, Mad Men was allowed to run over its allotted time so they could add in more commercials without cutting into the actual running time of the show. All this talk about product placement and commercials makes me think of one thing...