Mad Men officially returns to the tube this Sunday (finally!). After a 17-month long hiatus between the end of season four and the beginning of season five (which included a contract battle, January Jones giving birth and Jon Hamm appearing in Bridesmaids), the dapper suits, scotch and the '60s are back.
On Monday morning, some cast members of Mad Men, including Jones, Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Jared Harris and show creator Matthew Weiner paid a visit to Matt Lauer and The Today Show.
As always, Lauer held nothing back, firing off with a question about just how bad the contract dispute was.
Several of us had gender reassignment surgeries, so that all had to settle in, Hamm joked, before Weiner went into the serious details.
We have not been away from the show as long as the public has. There was a decision made by the network in 2010 that the show would be on in 2012. So I went back to work in May and they [the cast] came back in August. So it was really just three or four months longer than normal, Weiner said.
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Weiner's comments on Monday come nearly one year after settling a dispute with AMC and Lionsgate. According to a Deadline report at the time, Weiner was against the network and studio's suggestion of having product placement on the show and chopping two hole minutes from each episode.
Since the end of the dispute, Weiner and company have been quite outspoken about the return of Mad Men, but have shed little light on the new season, the fate of its characters and the new storyline.
I do know how the show ends, Weiner teased fans in an interview with Grant Land last November.
So is the cast worried about the show's fan base, given the long hiatus between seasons four and five?
It's an unfortunately long hiatus, but I think, now you can DVR shows you can actually find the show in ways you couldn't before so, we're actually hoping it wetted people's appetites more, Slattery told Lauer on Monday.
What about new fans that have been catching up with the show on Netflix and the like? When asked what Mad Men was really about, the cast turned things over to the show's rising star, 12-year-old Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper on the show.
[Mad Men is really about] Don Draper's wife, according to Shipka.
Here are some other highlights from the Mad Men cast's interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show.
On Betty Draper (and January Jones' real life mothering skills) She's not a great mom . . . I can only surprise people with my mothering, how can I say this politely? It's just a show. I can't say I'm a good mother. He's a really good baby, Jones said of her onscreen mom role and her own baby, Xander, who is six months old.
On that Kim Kardashian feud I don't think they were careless [comments]. I think they were accurate. It's a part of our culture that I certainly don't identify it and I don't really understand the appeal of it other than that car-crash sensibility. It's not something that I partake in or enjoy, but it is what it is and here we are, Hamm said.
I agree, added Kartheiser, who plays Pete Campbell on the show. I agree with everything he said. I mean, I think our society enjoys to turn on the television and see someone who's maybe awful and they can say, 'Well at least I'm not as terrible as that person,' he said.
On the inevitable end of Mad Men People keep asking me that, so I better get on it. I have a vague idea of what it is. I think it's interesting that people keep asking about it . . . and when they get to the end of the show, they're really gonna have to take my word for it . . . for me, I think they want the tension alleviated, like there's a plan. But for me, I don't even want to think of the ending yet, Weiner told Lauer.
I just like to be vertical. I'd just like to be in the end. Make it to the end, Slattery added.
Scroll down to watch Matt Lauer's interview with the cast of Mad Men on The Today Show.
Season five of Mad Men begins with a two-hour premiere on Sunday on AMC at 9 p.m. EST.