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‘Mad Men’ Creator’s High-Paid Deal on Brink of Collapse

Following the news that AMC drama Mad Men would be pushing its season 5 premiere to around the end of 2011, inside sources from the network are reporting to Deadline that series creator, show-runner, executive producer and head writer Matthew Weiner is in jeopardy of losing his unprecedented $30 million two-year deal with the cable channel.

Though most credit critically-acclaimed shows Mad Men and Breaking Bad for saving AMC by garnering a loyal viewership for a channel that generally broadcasts crappy movies that no one likes, the show’s high-production costs and Weiner’s huge salary aren’t quite worth an average of 2.9 million weekly viewers. To put that number in perspective, FOX’s crime drama Bones pulls in roughly 10 million weekly viewers. I only compare the two because I was surprised to find out Bones was still airing new episodes.

The inside sources say that AMC is asking Weiner to save money by adding product placement into the series, cutting two major cast members and cutting two minutes from each episode to allow for more advertising. Personally, I could stand to see Harry Crane and Ken…Cosgrove!…accounts hit the ol’ dusty trail, but I’d be happier seeing AMC release a statement formally apologizing for Rubicon and The Walking Dead (editor’s note: I love The Walking Dead). Perhaps we’ll never know if (spoilers!) Don turns into Roger Sterling after marrying his secretary, if Sally ever beats up Betty and runs away with Glen, what the sexually-tense future holds for new pantyhose team Peggy and Pete or if Joan ever kills her rape-y, horrible husband.

Update: AMC addressed the matter in an official statement saying, “AMC has officially authorized production of season 5 of Mad Men, triggering our option with Lionsgate. While we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key non-cast negotiations, Mad Men will be back for a fifth season in early 2012.” Early 2012, you say? We’ll believe it when we see it.

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