AMC is calling the upcoming Mad Men finale “The End of an Era,” and that’s not hyperbole. Today at winter press tour, creator Matt Weiner and Mad Men’s original six cast members assembled to reflect on Mad Men’s legacy, and its “surprise” conclusion.
As I wrote at Adweek, Weiner admitted he didn’t want to craft a finale that would spark fan outrage, like the How I Met Your Mother conclusion did:
“I’m trying to delight them and confound them, and not frustrate and irritate them. I don’t want them to walk away angry,” Weiner said of Mad Men viewers. But at the same time, “I don’t want to pander to them. … Sometimes, people have to be protected from what they want to see happen. You can’t just give them everything they want.”
There’s much more from the cast on how they reacted to the finale, and Weiner talks about protecting the Mad Men brand in the years to come.
While I’ve been on Squawk Alley several times, they’ve always been remote appearances from CNBC’s Englewood Cliffs, N.J. office. This morning, I finally made my way to the New York Stock Exchange for my first in-studio appearance, where I talked about my recent Quartz story about why the best shows air on Sundays.
Here’s a clip from my segment:
Thankfully, they didn’t include the portion where my earpiece shorted out, just as I was being asked a question by someone remotely. Oh, the fun of live TV!
Homeland. The Good Wife. The Affair. The Walking Dead. Mad Men. Masters of Sex. Veep. Game of Thrones. When you think of the best (and most Emmy-nominated) shows on TV, almost all of them air on Sunday nights. As I wrote at Quartz,
It seems counterintuitive to pit all of TV’s best series against one another, as anyone who’s tried to program a DVR on Sundays can attest. But there is in fact a method to the networks’ madness, and five reasons why Sunday night’s quality TV overload exists—and won’t be going away anytime soon.
Through Nielsen numbers crunching (charts!), research and a great chat with Showtime Network President David Nevins, I came up with five very strong reasons — some of which surprised even me. Here’s one: airing on Sunday night is more important than being watched on Sunday night.
While many of the Sunday shows have drawn record audiences as mentioned above, it’s also true that premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime aren’t beholden to advertisers. So those executives don’t have the expectation or urgency that viewers need to tune in “live” during their shows’ initial Sunday night airing. “I always say, it doesn’t matter to me whether you watch it on Sunday; I’m fine if you want to want until Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Nevins. “You wait much past then, you’re going to miss the conversation.”
There are lots of actors in Hollywood who become white hot, and then quickly flame out and are never heard from again. But very few get a second chance to grab the spotlight, which is why Tony Goldwyn — who rocketed back to stardom thanks to Scandal — is making the most of his comeback. In addition to starring in (and directing episodes of) Scandal, he also has co-created his first series, The Divide, on WE tv. I profiled Goldwyn at The Daily Beast, where he talked about juggling both shows, what’s next for President Fitz on Scandal and the joy of becoming a “sex symbol” at 54.
Out of the blue, to be hot again and have this resurgence and become this leading man in my 50s, this sex symbol… [Laughs]. He’s just a very sexy character and women dig him, and it’s given me all these opportunities now. And it gives me, frankly, leverage in my other projects. It’s awesome! But also, I have a sense of humor about it because it’s a moment that won’t last, so I’m just trying to have as much fun and be as creative as I can while this Scandal train is on the tracks. And it’s wonderful.
He also had a very funny story when I asked about something I’d been wondering about for months: what it was like shooting the last season of Scandal while trying to disguise Kerry Washington’s pregnancy.
Goldwyn was a terrific interview. I could have talked to him for hours!
I first met James Wolk at a Fox event held the summer before Lone Star aired its season premiere one Monday, and its series finale the following Monday. (RIP, Lone Star!) From Lone Star to Political Animals, he keeps ending up in these terrific shows that don’t make it to Season 2 (through no fault of his own).
I profiled him for The Daily Beast before the debut of his new CBS advertising agency comedy The Crazy Ones, where even star Robin Williams agrees that Wolk steals the show right out from under him:
“Oh, he can go more than toe-to-toe, he leads the way,” says Williams. “He kicked ass. Literally, I was going, ‘Damn! I’ve got to catch up!’ Which was wonderful, because it was very freeing to know that you’ve got backup. You’ve got a riff, and somebody is just right along there with you.”
In addition to Williams, I also spoke to the show’s creator, David E. Kelley, and director/executive producer Jason Winer about Wolk. And Wolk himself reflects on his strange journey in Hollywood, and bouncing back after Lone Star’s crushing failure.
I’m helping The Daily Beast talk to many of this year’s Emmy nominees about the moments that got them nominated. I was lucky enough to land a dual nominee — Elisabeth Moss — for a two-part feature.
In the first part, which posted today, Moss talked about her best actress in a drama series nomination for Mad Men, and shared her all-time favorite Peggy Olson moments from the show’s six seasons, including this one from possibly its best episode, Season 4’s “The Suitcase”:
It’s hard to pick a scene from that episode because they were all really special to me. But I love the scene in the bar, when they finally talk about what happened with the baby and him visiting her in the hospital. They kind of talk around it, but they talk about it more than they ever have. He says, “Do you ever think about it?” and she says, “Playgrounds.” I just love that line, and it was such a simple way of summing up exactly where she is on having a child and giving it away. It’s also the kind of moment you can only get after four seasons, which is something I love about doing a TV series. That scene means nothing without four seasons of buildup. It’s a great payoff for the characters and the audience.
Look for the second part of our chat tomorrow, focusing on Top of the Lake.