"Mad Men" spins bright future from past

Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:00pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The characters drink like fish, smoke like chimneys, treat women like doormats and are some of the most admired men on U.S. television.

They are the "Mad Men" of the eponymous television drama set in a New York advertising agency on the cusp of the 1960s social revolution, and some TV pundits say it could sweep the industry's Emmy awards next week after just one season on air.

"I am interested in the 1950s and the impact it had on our culture, how that transition happened and what it's like for my characters to watch the world change around them," Matt Weiner, the creator, writer and executive producer of "Mad Men," told Reuters.

Notable for its meticulous detail and leisurely pace, the character-driven series is nominated for 16 Emmys on Sept 21, including the coveted best drama series and best actor award for star Jon Hamm, who plays brooding account executive Don Draper.

Not bad for a show that was first written eight years ago, almost never got made and originated on U.S. cable channel AMC, which has a small viewership compared the major broadcasters such as NBC, CBS and ABC.

But that audience is getting bigger, thanks to the nominations for TV's highest prize, which have helped double viewing figures in the show's second season to nearly 2 million at its July debut.

Moreover, "Mad Men" is now syndicated in more than 30 countries worldwide, including Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and much of Europe.


<p>John Slattery and Jon Hamm in a promotional image for AMC's first original weekly drama series "Mad Men". REUTERS/AMC/Handout</p>