Lionsgate launching pricey ‘Men’

AMC show will rely on marketing campaign

Lionsgate is spending about $2.5 million an episode to shoot AMC’s scripted original series “Mad Men” in Los Angeles, sources at a New York luncheon for the skein said, making it the most expensive new show in the net’s 22-year history.

Because AMC’s license fee is only about $1.9 million an hour, Lionsgate will shoulder a deficit of about $600,000 per episode, which it will strive to make back through sales of domestic and foreign DVD rights, foreign TV distribution and domestic rerun syndication.

The parties wouldn’t comment officially on the numbers, but the luncheon, over which AMC general manager Charlie Collier presided, made it clear that the net has engineered a major marketing campaign to draw attention to the series premiere Thursday, July 19, at 10 p.m.

Collier said AMC has brought out its heaviest theatrical-movie artillery to use as a high-visibility platform to promote “Mad Men,” a period drama set in 1960 and centering on a group of ruthless New York adv execs whose Madison Avenue campaigns had a big impact on the culture.

Under its “AMC Celebrates” banner, the network will carry, uncut, a restored print of “The Dirty Dozen” for the movie’s 40th anniversary and a new print to herald the 20th anniversary of “The Untouchables.” Each of the three “Godfather” movies will receive two runs during the week that “Mad Men” kicks off, in a marathon on July 14 and on individual nights from July 15-17. The lead-in to “Mad Men” will be “Goodfellas.”

“Mad Men” creator-exec producer Matt Weiner, who was a writer and exec producer of “The Sopranos,” said during a luncheon panel that the 1960 setting makes the series so politically incorrect that the broadcast nets were afraid to touch it. Arianna Huffington, who hosted the panel, defined the show’s political incorrectness as “nonstop drinking, smoking and unprotected sex with everybody who walked into the office,” adding that the agency business was an all-male club for executives, treating women like disposable appendages.

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