So remember when I said the other day that all this drama about the “Mad Men” renewal negotiations between AMC, Lionsgate and Matt Weiner would only worry me once a deal officially was or wasn’t closed, and that everything else was just negotiating through the media? Well, the deal has been closed, and it sounds like there’s not a ton to worry about in the short term, at the very least.
Weiner has signed a deal for two more seasons, which would be the show’s fifth and sixth, and has extended his deal with the Lionsgate studio, so that if AMC decides they want a seventh season, Weiner will be the one running it.
As for the various contentious issues (which I discussed on Tuesday night), here’s what I’ve been told from a source close to the show:
There is no specific mandate to eliminate castmembers. The budget will be unchanged for season 5, and “everyone’s back for season 5,” according to my source. There will, however, be “a one-time budget reduction for season 6, and how that’s getting managed is up to Matt.” So if he can find a way to keep all his actors and cut costs for season 6 (and the hypothetical season 7) another way, he could do that. (UPDATE: I’m now told that even the season 6 budget reduction was something talked about throughout negotiations, but that ultimately isn’t happening. If there’s attrition in the cast between seasons, it’ll be because Weiner has a story reason for it, as he did with not bringing Michael Gladis and Bryan Batt back for season 4, but the budget won’t be appreciably different for season 6.)
In terms of the request for an additional 2 minutes of ad time, that’s happening – sort of. The season premieres and finales will continue to be 47 minutes. As for the 11 episodes in between, Weiner’s been given the option to deliver episodes to AMC in both a 45 and 47-minute version. The 45-minute version is what’s going to air first on AMC, but the 47-minute version will be available on “multiple platforms” – presumably iTunes, DVD and – I’m just speculating here – maybe even the On Demand version. (UPDATE: A few stories have said that the 47-minute version will be available “digitally” 8 days later.)
My source says there was never a request for more product integration, as that’s been a part of the show from the start, going back to memorable examples like Kodak in season 1 and Heineken in season 2. The deal instead is about more transparency about the product integration – so that the sponsors can say, “Hey, we got our product featured on ‘Mad Men.'” “Everything will continue to be organic to the storylines,” my source insisted.
So that’s that. “Mad Men” is coming back (sometime in early 2012, still). Matt Weiner will still be running things, etc. “Mad Men” is “Mad Men” with that man at the helm, and if he can live with the deal, then I can, too.