As “Mad Men” builds to what promises to be a humdinger of a finale over the next two weeks, the good news for the show’s rabid fans is that AMC has formally exercised its option for a third season of the period drama.

But the question of who will be at the helm of the show next season is still unanswered, as the drama continues behind the scenes in negotiations between “Mad Men” producer Lionsgate and series creator-exec producer Matthew Weiner.

Lionsgate does not have a deal with Weiner for a third season, and Weiner is looking for a raise commensurate with the white-hot level of acclaim (including the Emmy for drama series last month) and pop-culture buzz the show has generated.

Weiner spent the weeks leading up to and after the Emmys making the rounds of major studios and nets to gauge what the market would bear for him in development of a new project or overall deal (Daily Variety, Sept. 5). It’s possible that Weiner could cut a development deal with another shop and a deal with Lionsgate to continue as showrunner on “Mad Men.”

It’s understood that Lionsgate is hoping to cut a two-year deal with Weiner and use that as leverage to secure a fourth season pickup of “Mad Men” from AMC sooner rather than later.

Although the subject of Weiner’s future has been an elephant on the “Mad Men” set for some time, the formal exchange of deal proposals between Lionsgate and Weiner’s camp only began about a week ago. It’s unclear if either side has set a timetable for reaching a deal.

(Mike Flaherty contributed to this report.)