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10 things you didn’t know about making Mad Men

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Mad Men is one of the greatest television shows ever made. And while it lacks the excitement of a breaking Bad or one Lost, it has garnered untold praise for its period details, writings, and themes. It is about “a” advertising agency of the Sixties, but also of the human condition.

RELATED: Mad Men Characters Ranked By Sympathy

As one can imagine, a lot of work has gone into the creation and production of Mad Men. Doing one of the best shows of all time certainly isn’t easy, and it doesn’t seem easy, either.

ten Matthew Weiner was hired for the sopranos based on his screenplay

James Gandolfini Tony the Sopranos

While Mad Men didn’t start airing until 2007, series creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner wrote the pilot episode in 2000. At the time, he was working on a show called Becker, a CBS sitcom about a cranky doctor in the Bronx. David Chase – the showrunner of The Sopranos – got their hands on the spec script around 2002 and would have appreciated the themes it presented. He hired Weiner as a writer on The Sopranos, and Weiner joined the editorial staff in season five. He would go on to write twelve episodes.

9 It was originally launched on HBO

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Today AMC is a household name thanks to shows like Mad Men, breaking Bad, and The walking dead. But when Mad Men premiered on July 19, 2007, hardly anyone had heard of it. It certainly wasn’t Weiner’s first choice, as he tried to sell the show to HBO – the same premium channel that hosted The Sopranos. They wanted David Chase to be involved to some extent, and when he refused, HBO did too. The show eventually found a spot on AMC, and the HBO CEO later reportedly called for it to pass. Mad Men his greatest regret.

8 He was greatly inspired by the sopranos

The Sopranos changed television forever, and its influences are still reflected in the television landscape to this day. According to Matthew Weiner, Mad Men would not have become what he was without his creative freedom and his experiences on The Sopranos.Weiner told The Paris Review, “Mad Menwould have been kind of a crispy, soapy version ofWest wingif not forThe Sopranos. He also claims that the tone of Peggy’s story – especially the subplot involving her baby – wouldn’t have been possible without The Sopranos.

seven The show was also inspired by Hitchcock

Opening credits of Mad Men

If there’s a man more influential to Matthew Weiner than hers Sopranos boss David Chase, it was Alfred Hitchcock. Weiner has repeatedly stated his love for Hitchcock and the major influence his films have on the creation and visual style of Mad Men.

RELATED: Mad Men: 10 Things You Forgot From The First Episode

He was particularly influenced by two films in particular – fear of heights and from north to north-west. These two films also helped influence the creation of the opening credits, as they feature skyscrapers and the silhouette of a falling man.

6 Producers paid $ 250,000 for a Beatles song

Don listens to Tomorrow Never Knows

Music plays a very important role in Mad Men. Each episode usually ends with a period song whose lyrics reflect the given theme of the episode. Lady Lazarus from the fifth season contains what is perhaps the best ending song – “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles, a wonderful piece of psychedelia from their iconic 1966 album. Revolver. And while it fits the episode perfectly, getting it certainly didn’t come cheap. Lionsgate shelled out over $ 250,000 for the use of the song – about 9% of a given episode’s $ 2.8 million budget.

5 Jon Hamm was hired because of his tragic past

Who are you supposed to be?

Over 80 candidates were considered for the role of Don Draper. Matthew Weiner initially wanted someone less good looking, but he eventually gave in and gave Hamm the role. Most of it has to do with his acting, but Weiner also felt a pain within Hamm that would work wonders for the character. Much like Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm had a difficult childhood. His parents divorced when he was two and his mother died of cancer when he was ten. He was sent to live with his father, but he also died at the age of 20.

4 Meticulous research

Maggie Siff as Rachel Menken in Mad Men

As viewers can probably imagine, meticulous research has gone into creating Mad Men and each of its individual episodes. Weiner and his team continually studied various aspects of the 1960s, including fashion, speech, decor, technology, and pop culture.

RELATED: Mad Men: Ranking The 10 Best Characters (& Their Best Quote)

In one instance, Weiner was forced to change an episode’s ending music after critics pointed out the anachronism, but it went much further than that. According to Jon Hamm, the team even researched historical weather models to accurately describe the weather on a specific date.

3 Herbal ciggys

Don smoke

The onset of smoking would be a complete disaster – especially given modern smoking laws. However, the characters of Mad Men smoke and they smoke a lot. Producers needed to find a trick for making movies, and that trick was herbal cigarettes. These are both tobacco and nicotine free, so there is little harm to the health of the actors. However, these cigarettes are said to taste horrible, with Jon Hamm calling them a “pot and soap mix”.

2 Ceilings

Don's living room

It’s weird to point out caps, but in this case, it actually turns out to be quite interesting. Most TV shows avoid showing ceilings, especially those filmed on sound stages. This is because the “ceilings” are open and made up of many lights. however, Mad Men made the creative decision to show the ceilings in the frame compositions, as it more closely represents photography from the 1960s. While this makes the show more realistic, it was a total nightmare for the lighting and camera crews.

1 Absolutely no improvisation

Smoking and drinking at Mad Men

Matthew Weiner was known for his stranglehold on production. He wrote or co-wrote almost every screenplay, and he had the final say in props and costumes for the show. He clearly had a vision for Mad Men, and as such, the actors were not allowed to deviate from the script in any capacity. Scripts had to be followed word for word, and even if someone wanted to change a single word, they had to consult Weiner first.

NEXT: The 10 Worst Mad Men Characters, Ranked

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