The two traded compliments at the start, but it was clear LaGravenese is a hard-core “Mad Men” fan. At one point he was rendered speechless while trying to describe how much he admired a particular line of dialogue in the episode “The Arrangement” (the one with the trust-fund kid trying to launch a Jai Alai empire).
Among the insights that LaGravenese and audience questioners drew out of Weiner:
- The “Mad Men” character that Weiner would most like to have a cup of coffee with in 2015: Trudy Campbell. “I just think she would be a dynamite old lady,” he said.
- Weiner’s favorite episode of the show is “probably ‘Maidenform,’ ” from season two.
- The secret formula that Weiner relied on in crafting “Mad Men” episodes was borrowed from David Chase’s process on “The Sopranos.” “He would come in at the beginning of a season with so much story. Every episode had to have a professional story for Tony and a personal story for Tony. Everybody else has an arc for the season,” Weiner said. Now it can be told.
- Weiner pondered the idea of having Bryan Batt’s Sal Romano go to a gay bar in the Village and fall in love with the straight son of the mobster who ran the joint. But the “Mad Men” adviser who influenced the Sal character, former ICM TV chief (and BBDO alum) Bob Levinson, told him that Sal wouldn’t dare go to a gay bar.
- AMC initially urged Weiner to cast a British actor (he didn’t say who) as Don Draper. He refused. “Don Draper’s big secret is not that he’s English,” Weiner said.
During he course of the conversation Weiner delivered a fun-fact about LaGravenese. He wrote the screenplay for what became 1991’s “The Fisher King,” starring Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams, on spec.
(Pictured: Matthew Weiner and Richard LaGravenese)