During a pivotal scene in Mad Men’s Oct. 26 season finale, Jon Hamm’s Don Draper thwarted a power play at his agency by dropping a bomb on his rival. ”I don’t have a contract,” he declared before ultimately walking out the door. It was a dramatic moment — and a smidge ironic: The man who wrote those words, Matthew Weiner — the creator and exec producer of the Emmy Award-winning AMC drama about ad execs in the 1960s — is suddenly without a contract himself. And as of press time, one of TV’s buzziest shows had no one at the helm.
The show’s producer, Lionsgate, only recently initiated discussions with Weiner, whose deal expired at the end of season 2. ”I want to do the show, and I have every intention of continuing with the show,” he tells EW. But while the talks continue, both parties are considering plan Bs. Weiner has met with several studios in hopes of securing a development pact (one studio source told EW that his reps were fishing for something in the $2 million/year range), while Lionsgate has contacted talent agencies about available showrunners. Replacing Weiner, a Sopranos vet who also snagged a writing Emmy for Mad Men in September, could prove tricky: He’s a hands-on head writer/exec producer whose nuanced tone pervades the series.
A Lionsgate spokesman says, ”We’re currently negotiating with Matt and our strong preference would be to bring Matt back. However, the show itself is our first priority, so obviously we’re exploring all of our options.” In any case, AMC already ordered another year of the drama and Men’s regular cast members are locked in for multiple seasons. Meanwhile, Don Draper waits anxiously on the other side of the door.