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Mad Men Tug-of-War Delays Show to 2012: Who Should Give In?

Mad Men Tug-of-War Delays Show to 2012: Who Should Give In?

Thompson on Hollywood

Last week Jon Hamm warned ominously that we probably won’t see another Mad Men until 2012. AMC confirmed that Tuesday, although it has ordered more episodes from Lionsgate. That’s way too long: the show has run over the past four summers.

The back-and-forth in the media over the now legendary contract renewal tussle between Mad Men creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner and AMC is fascinating to watch. Should we assume that the creative folks are in the right and the corporation suits are by default greedy and evil?

When I read that AMC is trying to lock in product placements, knock minutes off the show to sell more ads, and slice two cast members, I see a company trying to figure out ways to make back its money. If Weiner doesn’t want those things to happen–and he shouldn’t–why not shave a few of the $30 million he stands to make in the next two years?

That’s what negotiating is all about. It’s business. And each side is trying to make the best deal they can. While the rest of us poor saps–including the actors on the show— are held hostage.

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I absolutely agree that Weiner should take a few million off his contract so this thing can move forward. Nicole LaPorte’s book about Dreamworks pointed out that when talent have huge paydays, the studio is often left with such small profit (or none) as to make it not even worth their trouble.

Weiner could also do well to think of the overhead costs at a place like AMC. Some marketing employee making $30,000/year could end up getting canned to make the numbers work so Weiner can get his $30 million.

At the end of the day, I don’t think AMC really NEEDS Mad Men, they’ve gotten four good seasons out of it, but I wouldn’t push them too much if I were Weiner because he may end up with nothing.

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