Tag Archives: matthew weiner

Mad Men Returns

The fifth season of Mad Men airs tonight after an 18-month-long hiatus. Creator Matthew Weiner ’87 has done a good job of keeping the details of the new season under wraps, but it’s easy to predict what may go down.
The last season ended in 1965, so the fifth will take us into the following year. The Civil Rights Movement will be a prominent backdrop for the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce men, as will Vietnam and Women’s rights. As phrased in the Washington Post:

The contrast is sharper now — the psychological gloom within Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce clashes with the verging sense of psychedelia just beyond Madison Avenue.

***Spoiler Alert for those of you who aren’t caught up, but there are fun links at the end of the post.

Draper Lives – Three More Mad Men

Nope, it ain’t an April Fool’s joke. Yeap, it’s pretty darn awesome.

The last time we checked in on Matthew Weiner ’87‘s America of hats and suits, there was much uncertainty over the show’s future – an unfortunate situation that stemmed from various in-studio disagreements regarding things like the show’s product placement policy and a melange of casting-budget issues. All that’s out of the way now, with all parties coming together on a nice 3-season renewal and with Mr. Weiner walking away with $30 million contract in the pocket (as Keanu Reeves would put it: Whoaaa…..LY SHIT).

Weiner has additionally signaled that these three seasons will be the final chapters of the show. He says in an interview:

yeeeeehaw!

“These will be the last 3 seasons” of the period drama, Weiner said. “I’m going to take it one year at a time without the distraction to ever have to go through this again,” he added, referring to the long, tense renegotiations. “I’m incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support and overwhelmed that I get to finish telling the stories I want to tell.”

As for the premiere date, details remain sketchy – although it will skip its usual summer start date. According to the New York Times,

(Weiner) indicated that AMC planned all along for the show to skip its usual summer premiere this year. “In October, I was told that the show would be on in March 2012,” he said, adding that his attempts to move up the start of the fifth season were stymied. The reason, according to AMC, was that it had other shows in its production pipeline.

More professional/spiffy-lookin’ reporting can be found here and here and here.

I’m pretty psyched about this. It’s pretty damn hard to find good role models these days. Happy April 1st, folks!

UC Berkeley Devotes Class to ‘Mad Men’

It’s no secret that Mad Men—the critically acclaimed AMC drama created and produced by Matthew Weiner ’87—has been a stunning success. In 2008, the show made television history, receiving 16 Emmy nods and the Outstanding Drama Series award—the first basic cable series to do so. In a feature for The Good Men Project book/blog/documentary, Weiner discussed the show’s Wesleyan origins. This season the show continues to draw in nearly three million viewers.

But still, here’s a new one: the show is now the subject of a popular new weekly class at UC Berkeley, discussing the engaging series in a historical and cultural context:

During the weekly class, the TV show is given the treatment normally reserved for works of literature. Words like “archetype” and “tragic” pop up frequently as students analyze Mad Men’s glamorous yet troubled characters. The class explores the politics and culture of the early ’60s and discusses themes such as the role of women in the workplace, class and society, marriage and family.

The class is part of UC Berkeley’s DeCal program, a student-run education undertaking that allows students to create and facilitate their own classes on a variety of often unconventional subjects. Considered a unique and “democratic” aspect of Berkeley’s undergraduate program, the program offers 150 courses each semester for up to two units of academic credit on topics that range from Harry Potter and “Sex and the City” to numismatics and swing dance.

Mad Men MoCon: Matthew Weiner ’87 Weighs In

It’s not unusual for alumni to air grievances about controversial administrative decisions. It’s also not uncommon for famous alumni to pay tribute to their Wesleyan experience, either in words or financial donations. But for a hugely distinguished alum to publicly criticize a major administrative decision (i.e., MoCon demolition) feels strangely unique.

Matthew Weiner ’87 (or someone pretending to be him), best known as creator of Mad Men, left the following comment on a recent Argus article detailing MoCon demolition plans. Scroll through the full comments for some further compelling alumni perspectives.

Matthew Weiner ’87 Discusses Mad Men, Wesleyan origins

So this article is a few months old, but fellow Mad Men obsessives will enjoy it.  In a book/blog entitled The Good Men Project, which has “Real Stories from the Front Lines of Manhood”, there is an interesting profile of Matthew Weiner ’87.  He discusses how women are portrayed on the show, and his study of feminism and poetry at Wesleyan:

Weiner is surprised by the idea that he, or his show, is sexist. “The treatment of women on Mad Men is the point,” he says emphatically. “The women characters are informed not only by my mother, an attorney, and two older sisters, an attorney and a doctor, but by the philosophical underpinnings of what I learned at Wesleyan. It’s right out of The Feminine Mystique. My show is saying ‘This is not right.’”

The most exciting ideas on campus involved feminism,” Weiner says. His eyes light up when he talks about the impact of his freshman poetry course taught by Professor of English Gertrude Hughes. He was one of two men in the class. “Like Emily Dickinson, I was drawn to the hormonal teenage experience of loneliness, of the reality of death, and of sexual awakening.” In the poems of women—from Dickinson to Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, and Denise Levertov—he discovered a form for his exploration of the outsider who tries to don a mask of acceptability, but often fails.

The dream sequences on Mad Men can be mystifying (Betty and the caterpillar?), but Weiner has long been interested in dreams:

At Wesleyan, Weiner became obsessed with his dreams. They were so vivid that he sometimes recalled them as real. He dreamed about walking around campus at noon only to find it deserted; he dreamed about talking to his late Grandpa Max, about talking to an amalgamation of people in a single body, about talking to the sun.

Professor of Psychology J.J. Conley took him on in an independent study course to explore the biology, psychology, and literary explanations for his sleeping visions.

Weiner also discusses how he came to Wesleyan to study poetry, but professors were unimpressed with his work.  COL professor Franklin Reeve finally took him on for an independent study.  Reeve remembers Weiner as an original and determined student:

Although Weiner wrote poetry daily at Wesleyan, he couldn’t convince faculty members that his work was good enough to get into a class. Finally, he took his poems to Professor of Letters Franklin Reeve, father of Christopher, for an independent study. Their first meeting was rocky. Reeve found much to criticize, but he was also amused by Weiner’s sense of irony.

“Matt never quite fit,” Reeve said in a phone interview. “He had a spunky original streak that meant his writing wasn’t successful the way others were. He was determined to reinvent the wheel in a wonderful way, which made him a stimulating and rewarding student to work with.”

Ep104_09_MMep-104-195

The profile has lots of interesting tidbits.  Apparently the scene where Glenn (played by Weiner’s son Marten) walked in on Betty in the bathroom and asked for a lock of hair actually happened to Weiner when he was young, and had a crush on his babysitter.  If you don’t already know, Mad Men airs every Sunday at 10 pm on AMC, and is in my humble opinion, the best show on television.

Profile: the Making of Mad Men

Mad Men Makes Television History

“Mad Men” made television history last night with 16 Emmy nods and the award for Outstanding Drama Series. From the AP:

Millions watched “Mad Men” make history as basic cable’s first show to win a best drama award at the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

The night’s biggest prize belonged to the sleek ’60s drama “Mad Men,” set in the advertising world of Madison Avenue. Such an honor for a show that’s lucky to draw 2 million viewers on a good night signaled that Sunday truly belonged to boutique TV.

“I want to thank all the people that went before us in television to make a show like this because we’re just channeling it every day and we love going to work,” said “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner ’87, who also was honored for drama series writing for the show’s pilot.

Matthew Weiner is Mad Men

Matthew Weiner ’87 (above), former writer/producer of “The Sopranos” and currently the creator, executive producer, and head writer of AMC’s excellent hit series “Mad Men”, is featured in today’s New York Times Magazine.

Among other things, the article observes Weiner’s somewhat neurotic control over every creative aspect of “Mad Men”, which goes a long way in making the show’s early 60’s world of New York advertising feel authentic.

Weiner (pronounced WHY-ner) is the creator and show-runner of “Mad Men,” which means the original idea was his: he wrote the pilot; he writes every episode of every show (along with four other people); he’s the executive producer who haggles for money (he says that his budget is $2.3 million per episode and that the average budget for a one-hour drama is $2.8 million); and he approves every actor, costume, hairstyle and prop…

“I do not feel any guilt about saying that the show comes from my mind and that I’m a control freak,” he told me. “I love to be surrounded by perfectionists, and part of the problem with perfectionism is that by nature, you’re always failing.”

Weiner was also a COL major, which seems to have worked out for him:

Weiner attended the Harvard School in Los Angeles, now Harvard-Westlake. Despite his difficulties there — A.P. History was his one success — he got into Wesleyan, from which he graduated in 1987. “My major was a program that combined philosophy, literature and history,” he recalled. “It had no grades, and I remember getting my first comments back and my father looking at my comments and saying: ‘Isn’t this interesting? I can read this comment and I can see that you got a C.’ ”

…After Wesleyan, Weiner got into U.S.C. film school with some direct lobbying of the dean by his father. “He was instrumental in making sure I got in, with my academic major that had no grades,” Weiner said.

NYTimes: “Mad Men” Has Its Moment