With the clusterfuck of issues surrounding the return of Mad Men sometime in 2012, it’s very easy for many of us television lovers to start playing the blame game and looking for a face to anchor all of our ire and frustration. Well, that anchor, for many folks is the show’s creator, producer, and writer Matthew Weiner. Reports have been swirling that while AMC is coming down on Weiner with casting cuts and shorter episodes, he’s being offered a cushy $30 million compensation for his work on the show. A number like that in the face of claims that six actors must be cut from the show certainly raises some questions. Why does Weiner need that much money? Can’t some of that money go into making up the costs AMC is attempting to cut? If he was really passionate about making great television wouldn’t he just ask for lower wages in order to finance the show? I mean come on, right?
Well, it’s not that simple. Though Wiener is supposed to be relaxing on vacation with his family, the media overload regarding his creation yesterday prompted him to give an interview to Mad Men fan blog, Basket of Kisses, in order to clear up a few things. First off, he aimed to clear his name, saying that the delay is by no means his fault. He told the blog, “I want the fans to know directly from me that I had nothing to do with this delay and it is not about money. I am fighting for the cast and for the show. And I appreciate the kindness and concern of the fans.”
Up until three weeks ago, Weiner wasn’t even sure about whether or not he was a part of the show’s future as his contract is expired. As for the giant salary AMC supposedly offered, Weiner says the “published” number is false and that he has, in fact, offered to take lower wages in order to save the cast, but “the harder that I’ve fought for the show, the more money that they’ve offered me.” I understand that they want to keep the man whose vision created the show that’s almost single-handedly brought them into the original programming game in a big way, but if he’s willing to stay for less in order to keep some actors, why the hell wouldn’t AMC say yes?
As for the requested cast cuts, yesterday we heard that it was two and later that it was a whopping six actors. Weiner cleared this up, offering that it was an obligation to cut two actors per season for the next three seasons. This is a little less alarming, but still creatively binding, something that Weiner can’t bring himself to acquiesce to. It’s not that the story definitely won’t allow for cast cuts down the road, but Weiner has done it in the past to serve creativity, not just the fiscal bottom line. He told Basket of Kisses, “Even though people have left the show, none of that has ever been about money…I’ve brought the show in on budget. I’ve been a good producer.”
For the time being, all we know is that the show is set to return sometime in 2012, but it’s still not certain whether or not Weiner will be back as the driving force. My guess is that if he doesn’t cave to AMC’s (seemingly ridiculous) demands, they’ll move on without him, but it’s at that point that I wonder how much support the cable network will see from their actors. They’ve got a few big names on their hands – folks who don’t really need the show anymore to see success in the industry – and they could drop like flies if AMC significantly downgrades the quality of the show. It seems to me that AMC is playing hardball, but it’s like they have no idea what the consequences are. Without Mad Men, they would be nowhere and without Weiner’s Mad Men in the future, AMC could be rolling into dismal territory. They were different. They were the ones who favored quality over mega profits, but this could be the tipping point that lets them become just like everyone else and it could spell trouble in the long run.
Source: Basket of Kisses