Jon Hamm and Matt Weiner on the set of Mad Men
The real-life "suits" in charge of Sterling Cooper have been spending some time in their own boardrooms lately.
As previously reported, Mad Men recently earned a third-season renewal from AMC, prompting contract negotiations between Matthew Weiner, the show's creator, and Lionsgate, the studio that produces the Emmy-winning series. But according to Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily, those negotiations may have hit a speed bump, as Lionsgate has contacted several Hollywood agencies looking for a list of possible show runners to succeed Weiner.
But don't choke on your scotch just yet — Lionsgate isn't through talking. "We are still negotiating with Matt, and we want very much to have him back as the show runner," Peter Wilkes, a Lionsgate spokesman, told TVGuide.com. "But our first and foremost commitment is to the show, so we're exploring all possibilities."
While Weiner was reportedly seeking out other development deals even before winning Emmy gold in September, he doesn't appear to want out.
"I love the show and I love the characters and we just started," Weiner recently told the Newark Star-Ledger. "I have every intention of being part of this show forever."
Sources say Weiner's agents are looking for a multi-year deal with a paycheck of $10 million a year and control over promotion and advertising. That kind of money and power would probably fly at a pay cable network like HBO, but Lionsgate says that deal is too rich for a show on AMC, which launched its original drama programming in 2007 with Mad Men and followed with Breaking Bad in January 2008.
As for AMC, it seems the cable channel will broadcast a third season of the show regardless of who's at the helm. "The future of Mad Men on AMC is not in question. The show will be returning next season," the network said in a statement when negotiations first began. No AMC spokesperson could be reached for comment on the most recent wrinkle, however.
The loss of Weiner as show runner would be, well, mad. Weiner still writes or co-writes most of the episodes and is very much hands-on in approving everything from set designs, props and costumes to the smallest details. Worse, the show has taken leaps toward becoming more than just a critical darling, racking up tons of cultural buzz, making history as the first basic cable series to win the Best Drama Series Emmy and trumping its Season 1 finale ratings by 89 percent. Losing the mastermind behind the show at such a pivotal moment could easily take most of the wind out of the series' sails.
That, of course, gives Weiner a great deal of negotiating power, but let's just hope the two parties can meet somewhere in the middle for our sakes. Would you continue to watch a Weiner-less Mad Men?