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Mastermind Matt Weiner Tells the Future of Mad Men

Mad Men, John Slattery, Jon Hamm, Robert Morse, Matt Weiner AMC

It's been a good week for Mad Men!

AMC's '60s-set saga was nominated for multiple Golden Globes and SAG Awards following the show's top-notch third season, and since we're as obsessed as the trophy folks with the wild world of midcentury Madison Avenue—not to mention still dwelling on that blockbuster season finale ep—we chased down Mad Men creator Matt Weiner at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society's annual Hitmakers fundraiser to grill him for exclusive insight into what went down this past year and what's to come.

Here's what we learned about the forces fueling the establishment of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, why Joan's (Christina Hendricks) not out of the woods yet, and what really sent Betty Draper (January Jones) fleeing to Reno...

Why did you choose to surprise us with the happy ending to season three?
The show has traditionally ended on a down note, and I wanted to end with a sense of liberation and humor. You have to go to the dark place to get there, but part of the joy that people felt at the ending was because we had earned it.

The end of season three seemed very contemporary—Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is a garage start-up!
That's what really happened though—there are many times in American history when these upheavals happened. And I felt that it was dishonest to say that a guy as talented as Don (Jon Hamm) would spend the creative revolution working at a place like Sterling Cooper. If you look at the history of the era, this is what would happen—the British were taking over companies at that time. Everything that we've got in the show is organic—I'm not defending it, I'm just saying that's where we got the idea. And they were working out of hotels! There's also stuff from Hollywood—the guys from Endeavor Agency left ICM in the middle of the night and took everything.

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men AMC

It was fantastic when Joan arrived and knew where everything was kept, and of course the guys had no idea where anything was kept.
I had this shot of Joan's feet. We were crunched for time, and I wanted this shot that started at her feet and moved up, and those shots always take more time, and they wanted to know, "Can we leave this out?" and I was like, "We could get rid of it, but this entrance is very important. A lot of people will know she's coming from the way that Roger (John Slattery) left the scene before, and that's fine, but this is very important." I wanted people to have the pleasure that they'd waited a season for.

"Joan, what a good idea," is one of my favorite lines of all time.
She bet on the wrong horse.

It's a tragedy. It hurts me. She bet on the wrong horse when she married her husband, and now all we can do is hope that he dies in Vietnam.
Guys like him, apparently, don't really die in Vietnam. Only good people die.

And he's not good?
No, he's not good for her.

Jon Hamm, January Jones, Mad Men AMC

And Betty! She ran off with this man she barely knows! My theory about Betty is that she's a sloth—she doesn't like to leave one tree without already having found her next tree. She doesn't like touching the ground.
What confirms your suspicion of this, because I agree with you, is that Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) did not sleep with her. He knew he was not getting anything. He was not getting anything until it was legal.

Seriously, how can they be getting married? They have no relationship!
Lisa Albert, one of my writers, says that Betty will go through this process while learning the least amount possible.

So she's OK with the fact that she doesn't know who this person is?
He's a handsome guy who says, "You'll never have to work again." A lot of women like that. Lots of people don't know the people that they're marrying. She didn't know Don that well. But Henry has been good to her, and I think she knows what he's about, and he's a very exciting person for her. I think he's the anti-Don in the sense that he seems very grounded. All I can tell you is that, as a pregnant woman, when he treated her sexually at a party, something happened in her brain chemistry.

And Betty's story is a story you'll continue to tell even though she's out of this marriage now?
Yes. I don't like spoilers, but you will find out that January's contract has been renewed.

The divorce forks the story a little bit...
She's raising Don's kids. And I also feel that she was always in her own show.

We need to do the Carla episode, by the way.
We've talked about it. Deborah Lacey is a great actress, and Carla's relationship with the family has so much integrity. That's a real relationship between employer and employee, and that's something that we're very proud of.

What can you tell us about season four?
Nothing. But promise me that you'll come back to the show—you're dying to know, right?

We are! We are dying to know everything, but hit the comments to tell us what characters and storylines you're most looking forward to seeing in season four of Mad Men!

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