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“Mad Men”: From Gotham to Beverly Hills

It was a pleasure to see the cast of “Mad Men” out of their workday outfits last night. They were featured at the Paley Center for Media’s Beverly Hills locale to talk about about the stellar AMC series.

Christina Hendricks, who plays Joan, and Elizabeth Moss (Peggy) weren’t attired in those long and restraining dresses they wear on the show, but rather in much more comfortable duds. At one point, Hendricks was commenting on the clothes she needs to wear all day long and said that after 17 hours in costume, all she wants to do is go home and put her flip-flops on and veg on the couch.Men1

The guys, too, always fashionably attired on the show in classic Brooks Brothers suits came in sweaters and loosely fitting shirts. Jon Hamm, always the most dapper, came in a sports jacket, natch.

But enough about what’s on the exterior for these actors and more about what makes them tick on the inside and how “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner birthed this show as, basically, a second job.

“I wrote the script at night while I was a comedy writer,” said Weiner, who was working on “Becker” at the time.

“Mad Men” could’ve been under HBO’s umbrella and a great post-“Sopranos” addition but the pay cabler never got back to Weiner after he submitted the script, which he sent off with blessings from friend and “Sopranos” supremo David Chase who told him “don’t change a word.”

“The plot I shot was exactly the same, word for word, as the way I wrote it,” he said.

Weiner, a producer and writer on “Sopranos,” says he’s heard comparisons between the two shows in that, sometimes, the plots take too long to develop and that it’s too dialogue heavy. No car crashes, no dead bodies. He doesn’t buy the critique.Men2_2

“We like to focus on the private moments,” he said, “and you don’t know what’s going to happen. If that’s not action, I don’t know what is. … Although on ‘The Sopranos,’ we would throw a murder in there once in a while. I admit it.”

For Hamm, whose signature role as Don Draper (or is that Dick Whitman?) has quietly become the talk of TV, said afterward that he’s getting lots of calls from folks around town looking to cast him in a slew of projects.

He’s certainly more than deserving of praise. It’s hard to think of many other actors whose character would be so well liked, despite cheating on his wife with more than one woman, barely spending a moment with his kids and often being a bit unsociable in the office. Hamm has mastered the art of mixing debonair with a bit of diabolical and deviousness.

After reading the script, he figured he could fit the bill, but was far from confident he’d win out other more familiar actors.

“This was the best thing I had ever read and said, Too bad they won’t cast me,'” he told the sold-out crowd. “It’s the only job where I said out loud that I want it. And I’m glad I got it.”

(Pics by Kevin Parry/Paley Center)

— Stuart Levine

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