AMC ‘Mad’ for drama

Net orders up Weiner pilot 'Men'

AMC has ordered its first original drama pilot, “Mad Men,” from “Sopranos” producer-scribe Matthew Weiner.

Period drama follows the personal and professional lives of New York advertising execs in the 1960s.

Weiner penned the script and exec produces. Alan Taylor (“Sopranos,” “Lost”) will direct the pilot to be produced by @radical.media. Production begins next month in New York City; casting is under way.

Cabler will greenlight production on at least three one-hour pilots this year with the aim of premiering its first pair of original dramas in 2007.

Weiner wrote “Mad Men” while he was on the writing staff of CBS comedy “Becker.” Script found its way to David Chase, who hired Weiner on to “Sopranos” after reading it.

“Mad Men” follows thirtysomething Don Draper, creative director for the Sterling Cooper ad agency, which hawks everything from cigarettes to political candidates. Pilot episode centers on Don’s fight to keep a major tobacco account from leaving the agency while juggling his increasingly complicated romantic life.

Weiner said he’s interested in the two drives of men: “to be a great father and provider, and to drink, smoke and get laid as much as possible.”

“In the ’60s those two things converged. Don is a guy’s guy of his time, a boy scout with a dark side,” Weiner said. Project also delves into “the introduction of the pill and Valium. Women were coming into more choices than ever.”

For AMC exec veep of programming, packaging and production Rob Sorcher, “Mad Men” fit right into the cabler’s movie brand, “tying into movies like ‘The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit’ and ‘The Apartment,’ ” he said.

“It’s retro but contemporary at the same time,” Sorcher continued.

AMC, which airs a mix of classic and contemporary movies, began its push into scripted skeins last year. Network came aboard to co-produce the BBC crime hour “Hustle” and greenlit “Broken Trail,” a four-hour Western exec produced by and starring Robert Duvall for this summer.

Sorcher also recruited VP Christina Wayne to oversee scripted development and director Jeremy Elice to head up the cabler’s efforts on the West Coast.

Weiner’s other writing credits include “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and “The Naked Truth.”