“Mad Men” creator, writer and showrunner Matthew Weiner is profiled in the New York Times today, where he reveals that he “quit” the AMC show during contentious negotiations last year.
“I had come to terms with the fact that it was over,” he told the Times. To be clear, he added, “Yes, I quit, at the negotiation. During the negotiation. And in the end, everything worked out.”
Indeed it did. Weiner came back, didn’t have to make too many concessions and signed a three-year deal for a reported $30 million. “Mad Men” returns from an 18-month hiatus March 25.
But the odd — and slightly funny — part of this story is that AMC’s president and a Lionsgate executive seem to be unaware that he had quit.
Kevin Beggs, the president of Lionsgate Television Group, said he did not know of Weiner’s departure but offered this choice quote to the Times: “We certainly have heard many times that if certain things don’t go the way they need to, it might influence Matt’s thinking about staying with the show.”
That notion turned out to be a strong negotiating tactic for Weiner: He got to keep his cast, giving up a 2011 premiere date and agreeing to give AMC the right to cut two minutes from non-premiere/finale episodes.
The tactic, however, didn’t work so well for “Walking Dead” showrunner Frank Darabont, who was unexpectedly fired last year during budget negotiations.
You win some, you lose some.