Where have you gone Don Draper?

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Well, it looks like we're going to have to wait until at least the fall, but probably later, for a new season of "Mad Men." With "Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner still working out the details of a new contract with studio Lionsgate TV and AMC, the series won't make its usual premiere date of midsummer.

Weiner has been steadfast about getting a more lucrative deal, given that "Mad Men" is currently the most award-winning show on television and the backbone of AMC's original programming lineup. Weiner told Entertainment Weekly in January that, “They are fighting over a very lucrative property, and who is going to pay for it to get made; it’s one of the biggest perils of success — everyone wants a piece of it now, and they are fighting over who is gonna get the biggest chunk.”

Two years ago Weiner, Lionsgate TV and AMC couldn't work out a deal until mid-January and the following season was delayed until August. Even if the three sides work out a deal soon, I wouldn't expect "Mad Men" to return until 2012. Sorry folks, but with "Breaking Bad" returning in July and "The Walking Dead" — AMC's biggest ratings hit — planned for a 12-episode season in October, there's just not much room for the greatest show ever about alcoholic, philandering ad men.

AMC could fit "Mad Men" in the early fall having a slight overlap with "The Walking Dead," but there are a few reasons this is unlikely. AMC tried having two shows on Sunday night last summer with the first season of "Rubicon" airing at 9 p.m. before "Mad Men." It didn't work out well. "Rubicon" was canceled due to disastrously low ratings, despite being a very good show.

The other problem is Sunday nights in the fall are already packed with both popular and critically acclaimed shows. "Dexter" and "Boardwalk Empire" — "Mad Men's" two biggest cable competitors — are expected to return in September. The networks also have strong presence that night with popular reality and scripted programs as well as NFL football. If Lionsgate and AMC are going to pony up more money for “Mad Men,” they’re likely going to want to get the highest ratings possible.

So, what does Don Draper (Jon Hamm) say about all this? When EW asked him about a season 5 storyline recently at “The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump,” Hamm said, “I don’t know if it even exists.” Sounds like the “Mad Men” star is getting a little frustrated.