“Mad Men” is keeping with tradition for its final seven episodes, kicking things off in early April (also known as prime positioning for Emmy contention). If the beginning of the end was the premiere of Matthew Weiner’s first half of Season 7 in 2014, then the end of the end starts April 5, 2015 at 10pm.
While the date should come as no surprise, the panel did provide some exciting insights into all of Season 7, from what already aired in 2014 as well as what’s to come this year. Creator Matthew Weiner as well as the original six cast members Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks, January Jones, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser were all in attendance to answer reporter’s questions. Here are the highlights.
The cast was surprised by the series finale.
When asked for their reaction after first reading the series finale, most cast members had the same reaction many have grown accustomed to from watching “Mad Men”: surprise.
“I was definitely surprised,” Elisabeth Moss said. “In the best way, but yes, surprised.” January Jones said she was “pleasantly surprised, and I hope the audience is surprised.” Christina Hendricks combined the sensibilities of her two co-stars. “I was pleased. I thought there was no way I could be happy because it was ending […] but then I thought, ‘You know what? That makes sense.’”
Vincent Kartheiser, always the humorous contrarian, was the one holdout. “I wasn’t surprised at all,” said the man known best for playing Pete Campbell. “[Actually] I don’t really remember if I was surprised. […] Everyone will have their own individual response. I hope.”
But not everyone got to know the ending right away.
“The final script was delivered incomplete,” Jones said. “The last 10 pages weren’t there, which was pretty fucked up.”
Weiner has always been protective (read: secretive) of his work, but he did admit to sharing possible scenarios with actors before putting them into the script. Though it was not exercised for the final episode, Weiner said he often went to his cast with ideas for scenes in order to try them out live and in person.
“But I did not tell them anything [about the end],” Weiner said. “Other than Jon [Hamm].”
“That’s the dumbest argument in the world to me.”
Weiner’s secrecy has led fans to wildly speculate about every aspect of his show, a long-running practice that may have peaked during the first half of the final season. Many rumors were flying around, and Weiner — who pays attention to fan reaction — said a few took him completely off guard.
One fan came up to Weiner during the early seasons and said, “I know Don Draper’s secret. It’s that he’s Jewish.” Weiner, while retelling the story, got a perplexed look on his face and said, “Did I ever put anything in there that said he wasn’t? Because he’s not. I meanm I know that.”
Weiner then turned his attention to the Sharon Tate rumors — theories speculating how “Mad Men” could be heading for a similarly tragic finale to Tate’s own tragic end — saying, “It’s so flimsy and thin, and at the same time I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of coincidences.’ I don’t know what to tell you. […] That in itself is the dumbest argument in the world to me.”
Weiner also said it was knowing his fans’ attention to detail that influenced some of the show’s crucial shots. For instance, when writing the death of Lane Pryce, Weiner said he knew he had to show the body. “If you don’t see the body, they won’t believe it,” Weiner said about the audience. “They’ll be like, ‘Where did Lane go?'”
Jon Hamm better do a comedy series if and/or when he returns to TV.
Anyone wise enough to watch “30 Rock,” “Bridesmaids” or any of his brilliant online bits knows Jon Hamm is one funny son of a gun, but he proved it even further by delivering improvised comedy during the otherwise fairly straightforward TCA panel on an early Saturday morning in January.
Hamm cracked jokes about finally getting to answer a question about “How I Met Your Mother,” feigned group enthusiasm for a fan-attended “Mad Men” cast cruise and got the biggest laugh of the morning by interrupting a reporter asking about possible spinoffs for the show with three words, exclaimed loudly: “Better Call Pete!” (The “Breaking Bad” spinoff program “Better Call Saul” had left the stage 30 minutes earlier.) “That’s an okay joke,” Hamm added, joking with the crowd for laughing too hard.
Much of the questions, understandably, related to the end of the series, thus creating a rather morose vibe for the proceedings. Yet when Hamm was asked whether or not he was at least excited to stop answering questions about how the show will end, he first, of course, cracked a spot-on joke. “Yeah, I’m thrilled,” Hamm said. “I’m so looking forward to being unemployed. I’m so happy not to see any of these people ever again. All of that is really great. Hashtag sarcasm…”
Later, after creating an extended joke about his new car detailing business and its war/collaboration with Vincent Kartheiser’s similar venture, Hamm commented on what he was going to do next. “I’m gainfully unemployed. In case it wasn’t clear to you by that answer, I have nothing to do.”
Please, someone correct this obscene oversight in entertainment.