After a rather tumultuous and lengthy off season, AMC’s first-born hit Mad Men looks like it’s getting back in shape for the eagerly anticipated fifth season – with news that series star Jon Hamm will continue to portray libidinous ad-man Don Draper for another three years.
Coming soon after the announcement that he would take a spin in the director’s chair for the season 5 premiere, Hamm has added a year to his pre-existing two-year contract – with a considerable raise attached. The new deal puts to rest any fears that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce would undergo a name change, and makes Hamm one of the highest paid actors on a cable series.
Clearly, Hamm is one of, if not the major draw to the show, and after retaining Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner in a historic $30 million deal, the actor was next on the ‘to do’ list for the show’s producers.
Having locked the two key players of Mad Men in for the next three years, the studio and network will now likely face the open and eager hands of other series regulars and integral cast members like John Slattery (Roger Sterling), Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson), Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell), January Jones (Betty Draper), and everyone’s favorite redhead Christina Hendricks (Joan Harris).
Reportedly, much of the brouhaha between Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and AMC was caused by the network looking for ways to keep costs on the period drama down (which makes news of eight-figure deals all the more interesting). One way the powers-that-be thought this could be done was to have Weiner eliminate two cast members a year for the next three seasons.
Whether that meant for Weiner to make reductions in primary cast – or cut back on his penchant for hiring actors to appear on screen for a single episode was not made clear.
Though it would be hard to imagine the show without any of its core members, Mad Men has lost characters in the past – most notably Bryan Batt (Salvatore Romano) and Michael Gladis (Paul Kinsey), who were last seen in season 3.
With January Jones’ recent stardom in the summer hit X-Men: First Class and alongside Liam Neeson in Unknown – in addition to many feeling her part has successfully run its course – the role of Betty Draper could be a reasonable place to start. It may be unwise, however, to rule out Weiner and his writing staff’s ability to craft an engaging storyline around Jones in the upcoming season(s).
If cuts to cast are to be made, here’s hoping fans won’t have to bid farewell to the wonderful Jared Harris (Lane Pryce), or Aaron Staton (Ken Cosgrove). At least they’ll have Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and (hopefully) more L.A. Noire to keep them in the limelight, should they be placed on the chopping block.
Stay tuned, as more Mad Men news is likely to be announced.
Mad Men season 5 will air on AMC in 2012.