Hopefully the rest of the "Mad Men" negotiations are going better than this: The show's creator, Matthew Weiner, and its network, AMC, can't even agree on what casting changes Weiner has been asked to make.
Weiner told the fan blog Basket of Kisses that -- as first reported by TheWrap -- he's been asked to cut six cast members from the Emmy-winning show over three seasons. But a person familiar with AMC's thinking disputes that number, saying Weiner only has been asked to be judicious about signing actors who may deliver only a couple of lines per season.
“I want the fans to know directly from me that I had nothing to do with this delay and it is not about money,” he told the blog. “I am fighting for the cast and for the show.”
As negotiations continue between AMC, show production company Lionsgate and Weiner, here's a look at the other sticking points -- and each side's take on them:
Episode Length: At least on this point, the two sides agree on what AMC wants. The show runs each Sunday night from 10 p.m. until 11:02. The network would keep the running time the same but wants Weiner to take two minutes of story to make room for more ads.
Product Placement: "Mad Men" already has product placements, but AMC wants them to be more overt.
Money: Though a person familiar with Weiner's thinking says reports that he has been offered $30 million for three seasons of "Mad Men" are accurate, Weiner told Basket of Kisses that "the number that’s been published is not true."
In fact, Weiner could get even more than $30 milion -- including back end -- under the deal he's been offered, a person familiar with AMC's side says.
But Weiner says it's not about money, telling Basket of Kisses: "I offered to have less money, to save the cast, and to leave the show in the running time that it’s supposed to be. The harder that I’ve fought for the show, the more money that they’ve offered me,” he said.
(About the fun name of the Basket of Kisses blog: Fans of the show will recognize it as a slogan for a lipstick campaign handled by Sterling Cooper.)
Return Date: AMC said Tuesday the show would return in 2012, meaning viewers would go a full calendar year without it in 2011 for the first time since its 2007 debut. But Weiner would like to reach a deal and get it on the air this year, the person familiar with Weiner's thinking says.
That's a longshot. AMC traditionally airs all of its shows in the same Sundays-at-10 time slot, and "The Killing," "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead" already are scheduled for this year.
How are negotiations going? Hopefully better than this: