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AMC Splits 'Mad Men's' Final Season, Series Ending in 2015

UPDATED: In a move similar to "Breaking Bad," the drama will spread out its final run of 14 episodes over the course of two years.

Mad Men Megan Draper Gold Dress - H 2013
AMC
"Mad Men"

Mad Men isn't going off the air anytime soon. Despite original plans for the series to wrap in 2014, AMC announced Tuesday that it is splitting up the final season into two parts -- much like the cable network did with Breaking Bad.

"This approach has worked well for many programs across multiple networks, and, most recently for us, with Breaking Bad, which attracted nearly double the number of viewers to its second-half premiere than had watched any previous episode," says AMC president Charlie Collier. "We are determined to bring Mad Men a similar showcase. In an era where high-end content is savored and analyzed, and catch-up time is used well to drive back to live events, we believe this is the best way to release the now 14 episodes than remain of this iconic series."

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Airing the first seven episodes, dubbed "The Beginning," in the spring of 2014 and the final seven, "The End of an Era," in spring 2015, AMC, with few new dramas on the horizon, extends the life of its critically acclaimed flagship.

"We plan to take advantage of this chance to have a more elaborate story told in two parts, which can resonate a little bit longer in the minds of our audience," says Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. "The writers, cast and other artists welcome this unique manner of ending this unique experience."

Mad Men premiered its most recent season to 3.5 million viewers and wrapped with an average 2.7 million, tying the most watched season finale for the show to date. And while those numbers might not have made it a ratings juggernaut for AMC the way that The Walking Dead or this last run of Breaking Bad have been, the series has been a darling in the TV community since its 2007 premiere. It has won 15 Emmy Awards to date, including the first-ever outstanding drama win for a basic cable series -- a feat it duplicated four years in a row.

"Mad Men has had a transcendent impact on our popular culture, and it has played a prominent role in building our Lionsgate brand," said Lionsgate Television Group chairman Kevin Beggs. "We anticipate a remarkable seventh season thanks to the brilliance of Matthew Weiner, the entire creative and production team, and our tremendous partnership with AMC. We're all working to ensure that the series will have the kind of powerful send-off it so richly deserves."

The decision to split Mad Men comes at time of big changes for AMC. The cable network says goodbye to Breaking Bad in two weeks' time and recently canceled The Killing. Potential spinoffs for Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead are being developed, and the network has drama pilot Line of Sight in the pipeline. 1980s computer drama Halt & Catch Fire and period drama Turn were both recently ordered to series.

Email: Michael.OConnell@THR.com; Twitter: @MikeyLikesTV