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TCA: My morning with “Mad Men”

POSTED BY STUART LEVINEMadmenseason2

It was probably the earliest ayem panel the folks at “Mad Men” have ever participated in, but the crusty eyes and uncombed hair didn’t stop any of the actors or creator Matt Weiner from offering some insight into AMC’s buzz skein.

Season two, which starts up on July 27, won’t be an immediate follow-up to last season’s finale. Time will have lapsed, and Peggy’s baby isn’t even addressed in the first episode. That will come as the season progresses.

“Trust me,” said Weiner, who is adamant about making sure plot points aren’t revealed before an episode airs. “I’ll give you the information you need in the most entertaining  fashion possible.”

Despite all the well-earned glory Weiner has received, including a big New York Times Magazine piece, he’s still concerned about keeping the quality at the same high level as seen in season one.

“The truth is, the success still hasn’t sunk in,” confessed Weiner. “I’m an artist who can only hear bad things. I’m tightly wound and want to please myself. This is where I feel the pressure. I don’t want these people to get a script and say, ‘Oh, it’s a dud.’”

Madmenseason2donbettySo far, no one has been disappointed. In fact, the cast, which has given flesh and blood to Weiner’s scripts, can’t really relate to their leader’s pessimism.

Said John Slattery, who’s been seen in a bunch of shows lately, including “Desperate Housewives”: “With TV, you sign on in the beginning and hope for the best. At the table readings, everyone is ooing, aahhing and laughing. It’s a surprise every week. The characters go places you didn’t expect them to go.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen and are afraid to ask. It could be your own death. Especially for me.”

Added Jon Hamm: “You think it’s going one way but the material takes you in another direction.”

Hamm offered some interesting analysis of his character’s relationship with his co-workers, especially Peggy, his former secretary who got promoted and is now slugging it out with the big boys.

“Don has a lot of respect for Peggy,” Hamm revealed. “His relationship with women are complicated. The women he’s attracted to are women who are independent, and Peggy has an essence that’s appealing to Don. He’s not sexually attracted to her but respects her. He sees in Peggy a co-worker to be trusted. That’s very high praise from him.”

While Weiner is waiting for the other shoe to drop and can have a hard time envisioning a rosy future, he’s happy to talk up the scripted-programming future of AMC, the home of “Mad Men,” in glowing terms.

“It can take five to 10 years for some channels to get to where AMC is now,” Weiner touted. “I don’t hear A&E anymore. I hear AMC.”

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