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Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Matthew Weiner and Jessica Pare on 'Zou Bisou Bisou,' the '60s tune that kept 'Mad Men' humming

When Matthew Weiner cast Montreal native Jessica Paré as a pretty assistant at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, only a few people knew that she would eventually become Mrs. Don Draper. Initially, Paré was not one of those few, so even after a moon-eyed Draper proposed to her during the final episode of season 4, she understood that her next scene could very easily include her resting peacefully in a casket. But Weiner had other ideas, and in the long-awaited season 5 premiere, he unveiled a whole new show dynamic, with Don and Megan’s relationship at the heart of it. “I said it as a joke, but the story of the season for me is that Don and Megan are soul mates,” says Weiner. “They are one person and that person is Don. And right in that first episode, there’s a line from Roger where he says, ‘They’re all great until they want something.’ As soon as Megan starts to separate from him by rejecting advertising and pursuing her acting career, it’s very hard on them. It’s very hard on him.”

In that two-hour premiere, titled “A Little Kiss,” the seeds of the season’s tension were ingeniously planted with one amazingly hypnotic song and dance number. Harry Crane wasn’t the only member of the audience who was mesmerized by Paré’s sexy rendition of Gillian Hills’ playful 1960 single. “Zou Bisou Bisou” was practically trending online before the episode concluded, and the catchy tune would reverberate for weeks. Below, Weiner reflects on the kernel of the idea that sprouted into an unforgettable moment for the Emmy-winning AMC drama, and Paré describes the terrifying challenge of bringing it to the screen.

For more stories behind this year’s top moments, click here for TV and here for movies.

MATTHEW WEINER: It would be a lie to say there wasn’t a showmanship aspect to it. We’d been off the air for 17 months – against my will — and I really wanted to make sure that we gave the audience some bang for their buck. It wasn’t the major thing, but it’s certainly where some of it came from. For me, the origin of the idea was that Don had proposed to this woman, and the audience didn’t even know if he was going to marry her. And the audience didn’t know anything about her. And I kind of wanted to give her a character moment, especially if the whole season was going to be about their relationship and what it meant to Don — to sort of introduce her to the audience and to the other characters through her personality. What I thought was, it’s one of the old saws of all entertainment — the surprise birthday party — and I loved the idea that this woman was very different from the people at the office. That she was younger, that she had a different set of rules, that she was more fun-loving, that she was extroverted, and that Don’s intense, almost-pathological privacy was going to be broken by this woman’s personality. She is throwing the surprise party — which means he has no say in it. No one knew at that time she was going to become an actress, so what better time to show her do this song for him, in front of all his “friends.” I mean, it was story: this is who this woman is. I think people thought that the whole story was going to be about him hiding his past from her, but you find out right there and then that she knows it all. So where is the show going to go? Well, whether you realize it or not in that episode, you just witnessed the major conflict in their relationship. That she has her own personality and Don can’t control it. She is expressing her sexuality out in front of everyone.

I love music from this period. I didn’t know it was a genre, but I was raised on a lot of light French movies. There was a lot of this music in the Pink Panther movies and things like that, American movies with a little bit of European flair to them. So I was looking for the right sort of sexy song for her to sing, and for some reason or another I found this song, realized I’d heard it before, and it just had the perfect mix of childishness and sexiness that made it a socially-appropriate strip tease. The other thing was I wanted it to feel like a real person doing it. I didn’t want it to feel like it was some big, rehearsed choreographed number. I wanted to feel like it was somebody who had just sort of practiced it a few times in their house and had the guts to do it. READ FULL STORY

'Mad Men': John Slattery, Jon Hamm to direct episodes in season 6

We know little about the kinds of drama that will ensnare Don Draper and Roger Sterling when Mad Men returns this spring. (Something tropical, perhaps?) We have just learned, however, that the men who play these characters, Jon Hamm and John Slattery, are stepping behind the camera again.

Slattery will direct a pair of season 6 episodes of AMC’s ’60s-set series, while Jon Hamm also will helm an installment, the network confirms. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Jared Harris on his memorable 'Mad Men' exit

If you’re a Mad Men fan, you’re probably still in shock — or denial — about that devastating penultimate episode of season 5. Back in June, EW joined a conference call with eventual Emmy nominee Jared Harris to find out when he discovered his time at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was done, to discuss his favorite Lane Pryce moments, and of course, to talk about that grisly scene. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage.

After the table read for episode 10, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner pulled Harris aside.  “[Matthew] said, ‘Let’s go up to my office,’ which I knew wasn’t a good sign, and then he offered me incredibly expensive brandy, and then I knew this wasn’t going to go well,” Harris says. “And he said, ‘I have something I want to talk to you about,’ and I said, ‘Uh oh. This doesn’t sound good,’ and he said, ‘No, it’s not. I’m really sorry.’  But he explained why he wanted to do [the suicide], and he’d been building up to it throughout the season, and from an acting point of view it was to my benefit to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.” READ FULL STORY

Aloha, Don and Megan! New photos reveal 'Mad Men' in Hawaii

Like the Bradys, the Jeffersons, the Tanners, and the Dunphy-Pritchett-Delgados before them, the Drapers are headed to Hawaii. New photos reveal that Don (Jon Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) will vacation in Maui during Mad Men‘s upcoming sixth season. This being Mad Men, additional details are scarce — though Megan is enjoying a tropical drink garnished with a slice of pineapple in one snapshot, and Don is reading a book called The Inferno (Dante’s?) in another.

While the bulk of season 6 remains a mystery, we do know that Mad Men has been renewed only through next year. There is, however, a strong possibility that the series will end after seven seasons, especially since star Jon Hamm’s contract lasts through 2014.

Read more:
AMC settles Dish dispute, just in time for tonight’s ‘Walking Dead’
Jon Hamm and Adam Scott film ‘The Greatest Event in Television History’ — VIDEO
‘Mad Men’ mash-up montage proves just how much Don Draper drinks — VIDEO

AMC settles Dish dispute, just in time for tonight's 'Walking Dead'

Our long national nightmare is finally over: AMC has settled its legal battle with Dish Networks, thus ensuring that Dish subscribers will once again be able to spend their Sunday nights watching the cast of The Walking Dead concoct exciting new ways to stab zombies in the face.

The lawsuit — an arcane dispute rooted in the defunct Voom service — ended this weekend when AMC and Cablevision agreed to a settlement with Dish. According to a press release, Dish agreed to pay AMC and Cablevision $700 million, and also entered into a new multi-year agreement to air the channels comprising AMC Networks — which includes AMC, IFC, the Sundance Channel, and WE tv.

The Dish settlement comes at an auspicious time: Last week’s Dead season premiere earned monstrous, better-than-broadcast ratings, confirming AMC’s status as one of the pre-eminent basic cable networks. The show might add some viewers this week: EW has confirmed that AMC (and its sister networks) will begin airing on Dish in time for subscribers to watch tonight’s Dead.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

Read more:
DISH CEO doesn’t know when you’ll get AMC back, hopes you don’t lose CBS
How Dish Became Network Enemy No. 1

Emmys 2012: 'Homeland' ends 'Mad Men' Best Drama winning streak

Mad Men‘s season full of acid trips, go-go boots, and suicides wasn’t enough to bring home the Emmy; the fan favorite show was completely shut out at Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards.

Not only did Showtime’s Homeland beat out the AMC show to snag the Emmy for best drama, but agelessly handsome Jon Hamm, who plays dashing-yet-flawed Don Draper, lost out to Homeland’s Damian Lewis in the outstanding lead actor in a drama series category. This is the fifth year in a row Hamm’s been nominated, but hasn’t won. Is he on his way to becoming the Susan Lucci of the Primetime Emmys?

Elisabeth Moss, as the show’s resident ad copywriter-slash-feminist Peggy, lost out as best lead actress to another Homeland star, Claire Danes.

Jared Harris, as dismal ad exec Lane, lost out to Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, who snatched up the best supporting actor award. Christina Hendricks, Mad Men’s va-voomy Joan, lost out in the best supporting actress category to Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith.

Read more:
Emmys 2012: ‘Homeland,’ ‘Modern Family’ dominate awards
Jimmy Kimmel’s best Emmy jokes
EW Emmys special coverage

Matthew Weiner reveals Peggy's fate on 'Mad Men'

There were several jaw-dropping plot twists on the most recent season of Mad Men, but the one that arguably left fans dangling the most was the exit of Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Just about every other character on the show who has left Don Draper’s ad agency has either never been heard from again, or revisited in a one-off episode and then rarely to never heard from again. Peggy, by contrast, had been such an integral part of the show’s exploration of the 1960s that the thought of completely losing her — and the Emmy-nominated Moss — had some fans in a wee bit of a snit. (Of course, Moss’ appearance in the final moments of the season finale certainly suggested that Peggy’s story was not complete, but why let that get in the way of wild speculation?)

Well, worry no more! READ FULL STORY

Emmy Awards: Jared Harris calls 'Mad Men' nod a 'thrill'

It’s an understatement to say Jared Harris’ character Lane had one tough year on Mad Men. (Spoiler Alert for those who haven’t seen the fifth season!) Lane’s season-long struggle culminated in his devastating final episode that saddened both the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce crew, and fans who’ll have to adjust to a Pryce-less show when Mad Men returns.

A bright spot: Harris’ incredible work was noticed when, in addition to several other award nominations for Mad Men, the actor received an Emmy nod for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama. Harris got on the phone with EW from Wales to talk about Lane, his castmates’ work, and saying goodbye.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations!
JARED HARRIS: I’m very excited! What a thrill; what a surprise.

How did you find out this morning?
I’m actually in Wales, visiting a friend of my Dad’s down here in Wales and I was actually cooking him lunch and a phone call came through and my girlfriend answered the phone, and she jumped up and down shrieking with joy, and then I got on the phone and I promptly forgot about the food I was cooking. READ FULL STORY

Emmy Watch: 'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner breaks down his favorite scene

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to return nomination ballots, EW.com is running a series called Emmy Watch, featuring highlight clips and interviews with actors, producers, and writers whom EW TV critic Ken Tucker has on his wish list for the nominations announcement on July 19.

It feels like almost a foregone conclusion that Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner would submit “Far Away Places” for writing consideration. For one, it’s likely the most structurally daring hour of television we’ll see this year, a triptych of stories that take place over the course of a single day, interweaving and folding back on themselves with elegance and an almost outrageous narrative confidence. And at the center of it all is Roger Sterling’s first acid trip, a calmly psychotropic journey that results in a moment of clarity for both Roger and his young wife, Jane, where they carry each other to the realization that their marriage is over. For a show where people rarely say what they mean, even if they mean what they say, it was a surprising and touching moment of openness and mutual respect. Here Matthew Weiner discusses why this is the scene he’s proudest of, as well as a whole lot of other elements of Mad Men‘s stellar season.

READ FULL STORY

Emmy Watch: John Slattery talks about his 'Mad Men' LSD trip

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to return nomination ballots, EW.com is running a series called Emmy Watch, featuring highlight clips and interviews with actors, producers, and writers whom EW TV critic Ken Tucker has on his wish list for the nominations announcement on July 19.

As any Mad Men fan will tell you, any scene with Roger Sterling (John Slattery) has the potential for brilliance or at least a one-liner that you’ll be quoting for the next week. But no episode was more full of stellar Sterling moments than “Far Away Places,” or, as you probably know it, “The LSD Episode.”

READ FULL STORY

InsideTV Podcast: Cat Deeley's 'Top Model' dreams and...dating Taylor Hicks? Plus: 'Mad Men' preview

Image Credit: Mathieu Young/Fox

Cat Deeley has always been one of our favorite reality show hosts, so it was no surprise when Fox decided to double their pleasure and double their fun by having the affable Brit act as master of ceremonies for not one but two summer shows: So You Think You Can Dance and the network’s new celebrity dating experiment, The Choice. Somehow, Deeley managed to find the time to stop by the InsideTV Podcast to answer our burning questions. Jessica Shaw and I grill Deeley on what other reality shows she’d like to host (see the headline for a clue), the celebrity Choice contestant she’d most want to date (again, see the headline), and how she feels about So You Think You Can Dance airing just once a week. We get to the bottom of why Cat wants to shoot her own face off (seriously), and she tells us why people should not take The Choice too seriously.

We also call in EW’s own Dan Snierson to chat about the whoring and hanging going down on Mad Men. Dan was on set of the AMC drama for the pivotal scenes where the firm landed Jaguar and Peggy asked to speak privately with Don to quit, and he tells us how much he did — and did not — know. We also discuss the future of Don and Megan as well as when we may see Peggy again as we look ahead to Mad Men’s season finale on Sunday night. READ FULL STORY

AMC enlists 'Mad Men' in Dish fight -- PHOTO

AMC has enlisted Don Draper in its carriage battle against Dish TV. The network will run this full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow (below), smacking the satellite service for its threat to remove AMC from its channel lineup.

Dish and AMC Networks (which includes AMC, WE, IFC and Sundance) are in a nasty fight over a distribution contract that expires at the end of June. Dish recently moved the company’s channel locations into the Siberian nether regions of its listings. It seems pretty unlikely Sunday’s Mad Men finale will be impacted by the standoff, but the Breaking Bad fifth season premiere that’s set for July 15 is fair game. Don’t get too worried, though — these types of public distribution clashes tend to result in last-minute resolutions. Here’s the ad: READ FULL STORY

Jared Harris talks about last night's shocking 'Mad Men'

If you’re a Mad Men fan, you’re probably still in shock — or denial — about last night’s devastating penultimate episode of season 5. SPOILER ALERT! EW joined a conference call with Jared Harris this afternoon to find out when Harris discovered his time at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was done, to discuss his favorite Lane Pryce moments, and of course, to talk about that grisly scene.

After the table read for episode 10, Weiner pulled Harris aside.  “[Matthew Weiner] said, ‘Let’s go up to my office,’ which I knew wasn’t a good sign, and then he offered me incredibly expensive brandy, and then I knew this wasn’t going to go well,” Harris says. “And he said, ‘I have something I want to talk to you about,’ and I said, ‘Uh oh. This doesn’t sound good,’ and he said, ‘No, it’s not. I’m really sorry.’  But he explained why he wanted to do [the suicide], and he’d been building up to it throughout the season, and from an acting point of view it was to my benefit to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.” READ FULL STORY

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