Yesterday’s reports on the stalled Mad Men negotiations didn’t exactly reflect well on Matthew Weiner, whom sources at AMC painted as a guy more concerned with picking up lift tickets on his ski vacation than picking up $30 million from the network to continue doing one of the most acclaimed TV shows of our generation and still, maybe, somehow, figure out how to be happy. That negative perception was even echoed by various other current and former showrunners like Lost’s Damon Lindelof—who tweeted, “Not that I'm sour grapes, but TEN MILLION DOLLARS a year for 13 episodes of a single show seems pretty fair, no?”—and Sons Of Anarchy’s Kurt Sutter, who sniped, “You can't ask a network for 10 million, then bitch when they want to expand their ad revenue source. Whore or saint, pick one.” The fact that Weiner himself didn’t even seem to be in communication with the network during this crucial time certainly didn’t dissuade anyone from thinking that he was just stubbornly playing hardball, possibly at the show’s expense.
Obviously sensing that the story was slowly being spun away from him, Weiner submitted a short interview about the situation to Mad Men fan blog Basket Of Kisses yesterday, saying, “There’s been a lot of speculation and misinformation in the press about what is going on. I want the fans to know directly from me that I had nothing to do with this delay and it is not about money. I am fighting for the cast and for the show.” Weiner went on to avow that the oft-reported figure of $30 million—or $10 million over three years—that’s come from multiple sources close to the deal “is not true,” while also putting it out there that he’s “offered to have less money, to save the cast, and to leave the show in the running time that it’s supposed to be. The harder that I’ve fought for the show, the more money that they’ve offered me.” That definitely seems like a strange strategy on AMC’s part—upping the creator’s paycheck at the overall cost of its flagship show—but that’s Weiner’s story, and he’s sticking to it.
And as for that part about “saving” the cast, Weiner did confirm that he’s been asked to cut two characters—and even worse, that the actual request was for two characters per season, meaning the possible loss of six overall. Which, yeah, if that’s true (and other sources suggest it is), it certainly seems like a lot for AMC to ask of the show that helped transform them from a channel best known for Dirty Harry marathons into television’s most critically fawned-over network. While the loss of an extra couple of minutes of pensive stares from every episode and additional product placement on a series about advertising seem like reasonable demands, losing six total characters from an already relatively streamlined ensemble is not. As much as we enjoyed “The Suitcase,” we highly doubt fans are clamoring for a show solely concentrated on Don and Peggy having meaningful conversations. (We would, however, be amenable to a show where Roger Sterling and Duck Phillips just hang out and get wasted together.)
So definitely it seems like Weiner has some reason to fight so long as that stipulation is still on the table—and despite those reports that AMC has all but given up as it’s already “done everything it can to appease him,” Weiner insists that these talks have only recently begun, as “We didn't have an actual conversation until three weeks ago.” So he says fans should just wait and remain, yes, cautiously optimistic before launching any sort of “Save Mad Men” campaign: “Everyone can hold on, and we’ll see if it’s necessary, but of course I would want them to express their feelings." In the meantime, just funnel those feelings into something constructive, like drinking. [via THR]