Mad Men Money: Are You on AMC's or Matt Weiner's Side?

High-priced salary negotiations and holdouts are an everyday occurrence in the sports world, but rarely do they bubble to the surface in the television world. Such is the case in MadMenGate 2011, which forced AMC's critically shlurped Mad Men to miss its 2011 summer start date due to a stalemate at the negotiation table.

From what we know from the trades, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and AMC are arguing over the following:

--Matt Weiner wants a $30 million dollar salary over two years
--AMC wants to cut two minutes from each episode for more commercials
--AMC wants to add product placement for additional revenue
--AMC is asking to cut two characters from the show for budgetary reasons

The argument in favor of Weiner (hee hee) is simple: Mad Men is considered by many to be the best show on television right now and is a podium hog at awards shows. Mad Men is also a cultural phenomenon that put AMC on the map and arguably made the cable channel what it is today. Think about it: where would AMC be without Mad Men? More so than other shows, Mad Men is an artistic endeavor, and the three points AMC is trying to implement are in direct conflict with Wiener's creative vision.

The argument for AMC is also simple: $30 million dollars!? That would make Weiner basic cable's highest-paid showrunner. Product placement isn't out of the norm anymore (and would be pretty easy to integrate given that the show is about advertising), and two fewer minutes of Mad Men would still give Mad Men one of the longest runtimes per hour (most one-hour programs clock in at 43-44 minutes per hour. Mad Men is current in the 47-48 minute range). Add that to the fact that Mad Men isn't even the network's biggest hit (The Walking Dead, in its first season, averaged over 5 million viewers, Mad Men, in season four, was just under 3 million), and you can see why AMC is hesitant to pay out all that cash.

The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman makes his case for why Wiener should get paid: AMC was a nobody before Mad Men came along. Now they have some of the best original programming on TV and have become a power player. Goodman essentially says AMC owes Weiner, and he should be paid thusly.

Taking the side of AMC, interestingly enough, are two of the industry's more famous (and outspoken) showrunners. Lost's head honcho Damon Lindelof tweeted: "Not that I'm sour grapes, but TEN MILLION DOLLARS a year for 13 episodes of a single show seems pretty fair, no?" But my favorite stance on the situation comes from Sons of Anarchy boss Kurt Sutter, who tweeted: "You can't ask a network for 10 million, then bitch when they want to expand their ad revenue source. Whore or saint, pick one." It should be noted that both Tweets weren't takedowns of Weiner directly, but rather commentary on the business side of the industry.

I always have a problem when people argue over salaries that are already absurd. How many yachts do people need anyway? But incorporating product placement and cutting the jobs of actors is never good for a show, especially one as cherished as Mad Men. I'm rooting for compromise.

Where do you stand on the situation? Do you think AMC should meet Weiner's demands, vice versa, or should there be some sort of compromise?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (25)
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So it's $30 million over 3 years, not 2, and no cast cuts (unless Weiner wants to kill someone off for artistic reasons). Compromise on time -- 47 minutes for a couple of episodes and 45 minutes for the rest. (Am I the only one who thinks commercials have gotten WAY out of hand? I hate how shows have shrunk to accommodate them!) Anyway, I'm happy we've got 3 more years of this outstanding show!
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hot_babe101 Um clearly you don't recognize good TV
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I don't watch Mad Men, but product placement is never a big deal, and neither is 2 minues. However cutting two cast members is unacceptable. Networks shouldn't be able to interfere with things like that.
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This show is so not as good as "Sons" or "Justified". I think its funny as well that "Sons" stole the best actress to ever appear on "Mad Men"; Maggie Siff.
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please just axe the show. it's actually really boring and really really bad!
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I'm with the ABC except character cuts.
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compromise, always compromise
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Compromise!
No extra money, no product placement, no cut actors.
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matthew weiner created this Frankenstein he should be willing to compromise with the time cuts, ask for a bit less money so that he can keep the two actors and there, problem solved
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Incorporating product placement is ALWAYS good for a show, at least if it's food. Subway sandwiches saved Chuck; the power of Tabasco sauce saved Fringe.
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I've never really watched the show; however, there are some interesting points being made for both sides. I just feel for the fans. It always sucks when this kind of thing happens. Also, if he didn't ask for the $15 million/year salary, do you think AMC wouldn't ask him to cut out the two characters? If that's the case, in the fans' and his actors' interest, wouldn't it make sense for him to compromise?
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No way does he deserve that.

Sure he may have had one of the shows that helped them breakout to where they are. but that doesn't mean that he deserves the money.

it's an large amount of money that he really can't need. And when his demands over money are probably gonna restrict the show is when it gets even worse.

It always annoys me when actors and what not demand more money to keep going in a TV show. You've been doing it for 5 years cheaper why do you suddenly need more. and in many cases there next projects flop anyways

Not to mention if they invest all their money in madmen and he suddenly screws the pooch next season. Which realistically, there moving into season 5 now the odds of doing so increase with each season. They will have lost all this money they can't invest in more original programming
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As stated above Mad Men made AMC what it is today, pay the man who arguably has created one of the best and most culturally influential shows on television.
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I would rather the writer gets paid a stack of money than the actors. Look what happened to Friends. If the show's popularity was just about the actors then every season would have been of equal quality and they weren't. Writers get EF all respect in Hollywood. Good on Wiener. Why shouldn't he ask for a wage rise. If you don't ask, you don't get.
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I don't know... I can't help but agree with Kurt Sutter but I don't want to see characters leave or any product placement in the show. It would take you out of the era. 2 minutes less per episode isn't really a big deal though. Fringe was 50 minutes an episode for the first season and now it's around 40-44 minutes. If anything getting rid of those extra minutes sped up the pacing. Then again Mad Men already has such a slow pace so I doubt the difference would noticeable.
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Wow...it's Matt WEINER.
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I say - AMC, do what Matt says. Otherwise you will regret it big time.
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The 30 million thing is bogus. AMC is just trying to milk more money out of the show and in doing so, they are compromising the creative vision of the man who made it all possible. Like the Facebook page "Save Mad Men from the Ad Men" to show your support for the show.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Mad-Men-From-the-Ad-Men/204119552946456
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I'm all about the compromise. "Mad Men" has, as you said, literally put AMC on the map, and not only that, but it painted a big target on it, too. Friends of mine who watch a lot of TV have gone, in the last 4 years, from never having heard of the channel to declaring it as their favourite. $10 million a year? Maybe not. I agree that they owe him a pay raise, and maybe even a 15-20% increase given the consistently high quality of the show, and the ratings. Sure, it's not "The Walking Dead" ratings, but that only happened because of "Mad Men", which has also still managed to pull in more viewers each year than the previous. But, while I have no figures, I'm assuming this $10 million is more like a 40-60% increase in salary, which, even at that much, it sounds like he was doing quite well enough for himself. Now, I find it hard to believe that they haven't been taking advantage of product placement thus far. Maybe they want more focused placement? I'm fine with it so long as it makes sense in the story or is part of the general vocabulary of the time. So they don't need to create a storyline where everyone goes out and buys a SAAB for the placement revenue, but if we see one that passes on street, okay. As far as cutting time from the show, I find it hard to believe that AMC wouldn't be able to squeeze more money from the sponsors given the show's huge name. As for the characters, I love a good character story, and love a good storyline most of all, and never want to hear about a character being let go for reasons other than the story warranted it. But if it has to be done, let it be done well, and I mean well enough so that if I didn't know about this stuff, I wouldn't have guessed that reason. And that's all from me.
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i'm on christina hendricks side... and her front.. and her back.
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Matt wiener isnt asking for 30 million dollars. In an interview yesterday, wiener mentioned that the network tried to UP his salary so he would cater to their demands. Also, he reported that the salary published was false.
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30mil? Are you kidding? For what? All that happens in the show is dialogue in a 50's setting. Such an over-rated show. Cut the show, give the 10mil that Wiener (haha tim) doesn't think is enough and just give it to Breaking Bad. I also agree with Sutter from Sons of Anarchy. Now there is a show that deserves more money.
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Before I read this article I was on Matt's side all the way because I love Mad Men and I would hate for it to get cancelled before it's time. The show is still great in season 4. After reading the article, I kinda side with AMC. AMC was going to transfer to doing tv eventually, they hit it out of the park with three hits (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead). Mad Men is an award darling but it is expensive and is not bringing in much ratings. Matt should not be asking for a raise unless he is willing to make more shows for AMC (like Seth MacFarlene). Firing two characters would not be crazy, I could see them easily getting rid of January Jones (or making her a special guest star like she is already), Kenny (who I have never liked), or the ugly guy with glasses who is just taking up space (though the tv storyline is very important). More ads, I love the car commercials and Tide laundry, so advertisers could really get clever with their ads. AMC will win but as Tim says their could be a compromise. AMC has nothing to worry about because it has Breaking Bad (which will win Best Drama Emmy when Mad Men is over), The Walking Dead, and now an interesting new show is called The Killing and a new Alien pilot their working on. AMC is not shivering, not too much.
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The guy is asking for too much. I agree that AMC should be greatful for everything he's done for them, But Wiener should be greatful too - there aren't a lot of TV networks that would have given him the freedom to make the show that he wanted. 10 milion dollars for 13episodes seems more than enough.
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I have been trying to Google how much top showrunners make, but was unsuccessful... However, judging by the response of people in his own field, Wiener is asking for a lot of moola...
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