Contract issues delay ‘Mad Men’ return until 2012

By Melissa Maerz
Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK – Due to continuing contract negotiations between “Mad Men” creator Matt Weiner and AMC, the series will not return until early 2012, the network said on Tuesday.

AMC announced that it has officially authorized production of the show’s fifth season, triggering its option with “Mad Men’s” production company, Lionsgate, but confirmed that the show won’t be back until next year.

“While we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key non-cast negotiations, ‘Mad Men’ will be back for a fifth season in early 2012,” the network said in a statement.

But according to The Daily and Deadline Hollywood, many issues have yet to be resolved between the parties, including AMC’s desire to integrate more product placement into the series, add more commercials and trim the running time by two minutes.

Two years ago, Weiner had a similar dispute with AMC over those two minutes, and both sides eventually agreed to let the episodes run over into the 11 p.m. time slot so that extra commercial time could be added without making the scripts any shorter.

AMC has been using product placement in the series since its first season.

Sources tell Deadline Hollywood that Weiner is threatening that negotiations may collapse as a result of AMC’s demands. Poised to become the highest-paid showrunner on basic cable, he is also looking for a deal that would pay him $15 million a year, or more than $1 million per episode.