'Mad Men' deal done: Matthew Weiner returns, Season 7 possible

mad-men-season-4-cast.jpgYou can now discontinue your "Mad Men" vigil: The show will continue to be run by creator Matthew Weiner for two more seasons -- and possibly even one more after that.

AMC and Lionsgate, which produces the show, announced the deal late Thursday (March 31). It includes AMC picking up the show for Seasons 5 and 6 with Weiner as showrunner. Lionsgate has also signed Weiner to a long-term deal that "extend[s] into a possible seventh season."

"I want to thank all of our wonderful fans for their support," Weiner says in a statement. "I also want to thank AMC and Lionsgate for agreeing to support the artistic freedom of myself, the cast and the crew so that we can continue to make the show exactly as we have from the beginning. I'm excited to get started on the next chapter of our story."

Season 5 of "Mad Men" is scheduled to air early next year, as AMC announced a couple days ago. A start date for filming has yet to be determined.

In closing the deal, AMC, Lionsgate and Weiner resolved a couple of sticking points over the show's running time and product integration. An insider tells Zap2it that the premiere and the finale of each season will run for 47 minutes, the average episode length in Season 4.

For the episodes in between, Weiner will have the option to deliver both 45- and 47-minute versions to AMC, which will then make the call (based on ad load, scheduling considerations and the like) on which version to air in its initial run. However, if it opts for the shorter version in a given week, viewers can see the longer one via on-demand and other viewing options.

As for product placement, Weiner will still have full creative control over what goes into the show, but unlike in the past, those brands will be able to play up their relationship with the Emmy-winning series.

It also appears that all of the reglar cast will be back for the coming season. AMC's press release name-checks all 11 regulars: Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jared Harris, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Robert Morse and Kiernan Shipka.

Photo/Video credit: AMC