Negotiations between Mad Men creator/executive producer Matt Weiner and AMC and Lionsgate Television seemed close enough to expect the cable network’s signature show to lock a fifth season in time for AMC’s April upfront meetings with advertisers.
But, with just few deal points outstanding in the proposed blockbuster deal — which would pay Weiner close to $30 million over three years — word is that talks are suddenly on the rocks. Though Weiner is poised to become the highest-paid showrunner on basic cable, we hear that he is objecting to three things AMC/Lionsgate are asking 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. Weiner is resisting all of the above. “This is their storied franchise, and they want it shorter and cheaper, with fewer actors and more product integration,” an insider said. “The negotiations are about to collapse as a result.” Reps for Lionsgate and AMC claim negotiations with Weiner’s reps continue. The delay in closing a new deal with Weiner has already pushed the scheduled production start on Season 5 and will lead to the Emmy-winning period drama missing its target summer premiere date.
Weiner was in a similar standoff with AMC over extra 2 minutes of commercial load on the show 2 years ago. Ultimately, the two sides agreed to let the episodes run over into the 11 PM hour so extra ad time could be added without having to shorten the scripts. Those defending losing two minutes of Mad Men to commercials point out that Mad Men‘s running time will still be longer than 90% of basic cable drama series.