There may not be any more "Mad Men" if deals aren't cut soon.
The popular cult series on AMC about the world of advertising in the early 60s is at a crossroads. Producer Lionsgate and network AMC not only have no contract with series creator Matthew Weiner, they don't have deals with the cast as well.
Whoops! There was a flurry of activity this morning as Lionsgate and AMC announced to the wire services that they wanted Weiner and the show back and were trying to make a deal.
But the reality is, the network has no agreements with stars Jon Hamm and John Slattery, or any of the other cast members. Hamm and Slattery were each nominated for Emmys this year, and Hamm won the Golden Globe last January (although that's not so hard to get if you're persistent and have a catering truck, but that's another story).
Hamm in particular poses a problem since he's turned into a huge break-out star. If "Mad Men" ended right now, the 36-year-old actor could go to movies and easily become the next George Clooney. This puts AMC and Lionsgate in a strange position to renegotiate Hamm's contract. It's going to cost them more than they've probably ever paid for anything.
As for Weiner and the show itself, if Lionsgate and AMC don't come up with the right deal, there's always the chance that "Mad Men" could wind up on another network. HBO would pay just about anything to take it given their disappointing schedule right now. It's unclear whether Weiner's original contract prohibited him from moving the show to his old stomping grounds—he wrote and produced on "The Sopranos"— but there are plenty of other options including F/X, Showtime and the major networks.
Meanwhile, fans of "Mad Men" are on tenterhooks to see what happens next to Hamm's character, Don Draper. In last week's episode, Draper went AWOL in Palm Springs, Calif. with a girl he just met. As viewers know, Draper is already living what seems to be a "double life" and that his real name is Dick Whitman. I'm told the next two episodes satisfying our curiosity, and that most of the show's loose ends will be tied up when the season ends — in case there aren't any more.
There’s big news in the Hollywood management world this morning. Rick Yorn, who manages Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz among others, has broken with Jeff Kwatinetz’s agency called The Firm.
It’s not a total surprise: I told you on September 10, 2007 that Yorn was negotiating to leave The Firm and take his clients with him. As it turns out, he’s decided simply to start his own Firm.
Going along with Leo and Cameron are Martin Scorsese, Justin Timberlake, Benicio Del Toro, and Rick's brother, musician Pete Yorn.
If you remember, Rick Yorn brought all those clients to The Firm when Michael Ovitz’s Artists Management Group capsized a few years ago.
When I wrote about The Firm breaking up last year, two things were happening: Kwatinetz had had two major disasters. One was with singer Kelly Clarkson, who released an album despite her label’s advice not to do it. At the same time, Britney Spears made her unfortunate appearance on the MTV Music Awards.
Both of those clients are now gone, and worse: they are thriving in different environments. Clarkson is just finishing up her new album for Clive Davis and J/Arista Records. Pete Ganbarg, the wunderkind who is just now joining Atlantic Records as head of A&R and who crafted the smash hit “Smooth” for Santana and Rob Thomas a few years ago, is in charge.
At the same, Britney is getting her new album together. She already has a hit in the awful “Womanizer,” and looks better than ever. Kwatinetz is just bloodied, but not bowed, by the Yorn et al departure. Still, it removes from The Firm a connection to A list actors and directors.
A rare performance by Carly Simon on Saturday night sent this reporter to Atlantic City, New Jersey and the Borgata Hotel and Casino.
Of the latter: it’s the high end of the A.C. experience, where the blackjack tables have $25 minimums and there is a surfeit of people playing $5 slot machines even in a recession.
The Hotel’s main theater seats around 2,500, and every chair was filled for Simon. The legendary singer songwriter brought an eight piece band and a cute mixed breed poodle named Molly to the stage.
It was maybe the longest, and most comprehensive Carly Simon show seen in some time anywhere. Simon showed off new arrangements of old songs like “You’re So Vain,” “Anticipation,” and “You Belong to Me” with numbers from her latest album, “This Kind of Love,” which had the misfortune of being released by Starbucks’ HearMusic a few days before the label went out of business.
If Starbucks’ Howard Shultz and Concord Records’ Norman Lear were feeling chivalrous, they’d give Carly back her album to re-release elsewhere. The songs, as performed, are as good if not better than anything by a “contemporary” artist.
The wildly enthusiastic audience agreed. They gave Carly many standing ovations, shouted out names of songs they wanted to hear, and cheered after her many funny reminisces. Instead of playing the entire version of “That’s the Way I Always Heard It Should Be,” she instead incorporated it into an amusing story about playing the song live for the first time back in 1971 when she opened for Cat Stevens at the Troubador in West Hollywood. While she played the piano, she was forced to knock a loose mike back into position at the end of each line she sang — “like return on a typewriter,” she laughed.
Those in the audience who knew what typewriters were really enjoyed this. Luckily, it was most of them.
Simon’s voice remains as husky and sexy as ever, with all notes intact. At 63, she still looks hot, kids, and prances across the stage like a 20 year old. A consummate musician, she also managed to conduct the entire show without any augmentation, ornamentation, tape loops, pre recorded tracks, or other paraphernalia. This was quite unlike a show I saw last Sunday at Madison Square Garden by a 50 year old current pop star.
As a fitting ending for political times, Simon — who has remained conspicuously absent from this year’s election entertainment — did lead the band through a rousing rendition of Neil Young’s classic, “Ohio.” It could not have been more relevant. Viva Carly Simon!
The great R&B singer Dee Dee Warwick, sister of Dionne, has passed away at age 63.
Twice nominated for Grammys, Dee Dee received a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation a few years ago for making the original recordings of songs like "You're No Good" and "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me." Her chart hits included "She Didn't Know (She Kept on Talking)" and "Foolish Fool."
Dee Dee had a beautiful soul and the most amazing almond shaped eyes that seemed like she could see what others didn't. When she received the Pioneer Award, her sister, Dionne said in her introduction that it was Dee Dee who really had the best voice in an extraordinary family that included Cissy Houston and Whitney Houston. She will be sorely missed.
Actor/director Stanley Tucci, whose films “Big Night” and “Blind Date” are considered the best of indie filmmaking, is at it again. He’s raising money now for a new feature with Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson that he will direct from his own script. (There are some other top names attached to it, as well.) Despite the economy, people keep on telling me there’s money out there for good indies. So here’s the opportunity. Let’s prove the insiders right…
…Sensational Santa Monica based pop-jazz recording artist Julia Fordham has a song for Barack Obama that she says he can use for the remainder of his campaign. On Friday night at Hiro, she performed “Hope, Prayer and Time” which was written by Gary Clark (leader of cult group Meet Danny Wilson), as a finale to an amazing, beautiful show that included her big hit, “Happy Ever After” and selections from her current jazz album, “China Blue.” “Hope” is from her 1994 “Falling Forward” album and couldn’t be more perfect if Obama had written it himself. David Plouffe, this means you… And the good news is, everyone involved wants the campaign to use, it for a change…
…Spike TV doesn’t unveil its Scream Award winners until tomorrow night. But the betting money for Best Actress in a Horror Movie or TV show is on Liv Tyler for her terrific performance in “The Strangers”…