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Erin Levy’s ‘Mad Men’ rise

Writer began as an assistant on drama's third season

Erin Levy’s story is an intriguing parallel of the Don Draper-Peggy Olson track on “Mad Men”: Promising young talent comes into the office, impresses the in-house creative genius, who decides to give her a big chance with a big assignment.

Levy, who shared the drama writing Emmy win with “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, was the writers assistant on the AMC drama’s third season. By the end of that season, she had been enlisted to co-write the show’s rollicking season conclusion, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat.”

“I would say that Matt was a bit more nurturing of me” than Draper was to his one-time secretary, Levy mused.

Weiner has a history of guiding assistants to writing slots in the show, starting with Robin Veith, the assistant who helped him pen the “Mad Men” script nearly a decade ago and was also nommed for writing for the show this year (for the “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency” seg).

Levy first caught Weiner’s attention when she was a student at USC in a writing class taught by Weiner and one of her assignments was to rewrite a screenplay. The two kept in touch after the class ended. Early last year, when Weiner was looking for a new writers assistant, Levy was an easy choice.

Levy noted how much she learned just being in the writers room of “Mad Men,” particularly from her demanding boss.

“One of the things you do as an assistant is take down notes when he is talking,” Levy said. “It’s a great thing to learn from his style” of developing stories and dialogue.

Levy has graduated to a full-fledged writer’s slot on the current season of “Mad Men.” She even scored a rare solo writing credit on the Aug. 22 episode, “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.”

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