Lionsgate, Weiner seal 'Mad' deal

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Matthew Weiner is a mad man again. After months of negotiations, the "Mad Men" creator on Friday closed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with producer Lionsgate TV to continue on the acclaimed AMC drama.

The pact — Lionsgate TV's biggest to date on the drama side — includes Weiner's services as executive producer and showrunner on "Mad Men" as well as the development of new projects for Lionsgate TV and a potential feature film for Lionsgate.

"It's been a long road to try to make this deal, but between the support of AMC and the creative dealmaking of (Lionsgate TV COO) Sandra Stern, we found a way to cobble together a package that was attractive to Matthew and made sense for us," Lionsgate TV president Kevin Beggs said.

In what Beggs referred to as "a collective effort" and AMC president Charlie Collier called "a partnership," AMC is said to be pitching in to foot the bill for Weiner's rich new deal, a common practice, especially for high-profile basic cable series.

AMC also made the initial deal with Weiner for his "Mad Men" spec script and financed the pilot before laying off the series at Lionsgate.

The premise of the feature Weiner will develop for Lionsgate has not been determined, but it will not be a "Mad Men" movie, Beggs said.

Weiner's original deal with Lionsgate TV covered only the first two seasons of "Mad Men," and in September he began meeting with studios about an overall deal.

In October, AMC handed Lionsgate a third-season pickup for the show with Weiner's future still uncertain. But behind the scenes, "we were always concentrated on bringing him back," Collier said. "He is the heart and soul of the show."

There was speculation that a new two-year deal between Weiner and Lionsgate might trigger an early fourth-season order for the period drama. Although that hasn't happened, "we fully expect to have 'Mad Men' on for a long time," Collier said.

Additionally, under his deal with Lionsgate TV, Weiner is "incentivized" for the show to go to a fourth season, Beggs said.

In a statement, Weiner called his work on the show "a charmed experience, made possible by my partnership with AMC and Lionsgate."

"I am proud to work so closely with these two companies who love taking risks and value creativity, and I am thrilled to get back to work with the most talented cast and crew in the business," he said.

With Weiner finally locked in, the "Mad Men" writers are expected to convene today to begin working on stories for the third season, slated for a summer premiere.

The contentious salary negotiations had a rough start in the fall, when the two sides were far apart on the money. Lionsgate TV even put feelers out to agencies, asking for the availability of other showrunners to possibly take the helm of the period ad-agency drama.

Talks picked up momentum before Christmas, however, and the deal points were worked out during the past three weeks.

While the sides were at the bargaining table, "Mad Men" won a truckload of awards, including best drama series at the Emmys and Golden Globes. (partialdiff)
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