Third season of drama set to premiere Aug. 16

AMC has found a creative solution to the tempest surrounding its decision to add two more minutes of commercial time to the upcoming season of “Mad Men,” set to bow Aug. 16. The episodes will run a few minutes into the 11 p.m. hour to accommodate the extra blurbs.

The news that AMC would add more commercial time to each telecast did not sit well with “Mad Men” creator-exec producer Matthew Weiner, who’s known for meticulously crafting every frame of the period piece that earned the Emmy last year for drama.

It’s understood that relations between Weiner and AMC execs were strained over the running time issue. From AMC’s perspective, the cabler needed the additional blurb time to offset the higher license fee that it’s paying for the third season. Weiner said he was gratified by the compromise reached.

“It’s wonderful to have partners who can respond to both a business and creative challenge in such a satisfying way,” Weiner told Daily Variety.

“Mad Men” has a generous running time of around 47-48 minutes per episode — compared with 42-43 minutes for most broadcast TV dramas and 44-46 minutes for many basic cable hours.

AMC was finally able to work it out with its advertisers and its cable operator affiliates, and it devised a technical solution to ensure that DVRs set to record the show would recognize its unusual running time and not cut off at 11 p.m. sharp.

“Mad Men” will return to its familiar Sunday 10 p.m. timeslot for its premiere telecasts. And the first episode of the new season will run with limited commercial breaks.

AMC execs said that while it took several months, they were happy to work out a solution to allow for the slightly longer running time.

“We’re thrilled that we’ve crafted a way to maximize our business and at the same time meet everyone’s demands — those of our marketers and advertisers, those of our creative team and those of our viewers,” said Joel Stillerman, senior veep of original programming, production and digital content at AMC.

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