Has AMC’s big spending on Mad Men eaten up the rest of the cable network’s programming budget?
This past spring, after a nasty, drawn-out negotiating process, AMC offered Mad Men show-runner Matthew Weiner a new contract in order to keep him on board for at least two more seasons—and he’ll receive nearly $10 million for each one.
Now, the people behind AMC's other critically acclaimed programs are complaining that Mad Men’s massive expenses are taking a chunk out of their own paychecks, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the last two weeks, the network has pushed for cuts to both Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.
When AMC attempted to cut the upcoming season of Breaking Bad from its usual 13 episodes down to just 6 or 8, the show’s studio, Sony Television, was so angry that it began shopping the series to other cable networks. (Since then, AMC and Sony have reportedly attempted to negotiate a new deal.)
The network is also pinching pennies on The Walking Dead, slashing about $250,000 per episode for the second season. Last week, the show’s executive producer Frank Darabont was replaced just days after he appeared at Comic-Con to promote the new season, leading to speculation that he was forced out over budget disputes.
Meanwhile, AMC has put a halt to the production of any new series. Earlier this year, after singling out three potential shows from a number of pitches, the network decided not to produce any of them.
Of course, the network is denying that Mad Men’s budget has anything to do with belt-tightening elsewhere. “We're investing more than we ever have before,” AMC president Charlie Collier told the L.A. Times. “The fact that future seasons of Mad Men were going to be expensive is not a surprise to us . . . We've taken some of the most expensive, riskiest shows around and nurtured them and managed to grow our network.”