'Mad Men' Season 5 set for 2012, negotiations with Matthew Weiner ongoing

mad-men-contracts.jpgAMC has given the green light to Season 5 of "Mad Men," but because negotiations with creator Matthew Weiner on a new deal are still going on, it won't be on the air until early next year.

"AMC has officially authorized production of Season 5 of 'Mad Men,' triggering our option with Lionsgate ('Mad Men's' production company)," the network says in a statement. "While we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key non-cast negotiations, 'Mad Men' will be back for a fifth season in early 2012."

While there's been a lot of speculation that the fifth season would be pushed to next year -- past seasons have all begun in July or August -- AMC's statement is the first official word on the matter. We likely won't get a more specific premiere date, or a production start date, until those negotiations are done.

As previously reported, the protracted negotiations between Weiner, AMC and Lionsgate have hit a snag in recent days. AMC and Lionsgate have offered Weiner a reported $30 million to continue as "Mad Men's" showrunner for two more years, but in return have asked for a trim to the show's running time (by about two minutes per episode) and some concessions product integration.

There were also reports that AMC was looking to cut or reduce the workload of two cast members, but an insider tells Zap2it that the entire cast will return for Season 5.

As for running time, "Mad Men" averaged about 47 minutes without commercials last season. Trimming two minutes would still give it more storytelling time than most of the other shows on ad-supported cable and pretty much everything on the broadcast networks.

The product integration question concerns whether brands who pay to be part of the show can tout that fact. "Mad Men" has featured product placement since its first season, and while it's usually been pretty seamless and relevant to the story, brands haven't been able to publicize their presence on the show.

Photo/Video credit: AMC