Mad Men's Writers' Room
- DAVE ITZKOFF: There’s a traditional model of television writing, where stories are pitched in the writers’ room, assigned to individual writers and then the scripts that come back get rewritten in the room. Is that how “Mad Men” operates?
- MATTHEW WEINER: No, no, it’s not like that at all. The outline comes out of the room. Maria and André [Jacquemetton] drive the train on that. I have story ideas, people have story ideas, we break the A, B and C stories. This is all the way “The Sopranos” did it. That’s the only way I knew to do it and we have our own version of it. We cut them into strips and we tape them into an outline of like 45 beats. Some of them we assign to a writer and they go off and write a draft. I see that draft, and if I have time, I give notes. Sometimes it’s like an audition. There are people who write a draft and it’s the end of it. You say, “I don’t think this is going to work out.” But whatever happens, eventually the script comes to me and I start fresh to some degree. And then I do a draft and that goes to the room. They give me their notes, I do another draft, I do another draft, I just keep doing. If I change less than 80 percent of it, I will leave their name on it, by themselves. Now, it’s unfair on some level, because I’m deciding what I change.
- DAVE ITZKOFF: Do you think that’s commonplace at other shows?
- MATTHEW WEINER: Everyone who has my job does this. They don’t usually put their names on it. It was important for my mental health, to see my name on there for work that I had done almost all of, in some cases. And I never understood it, why a person would want their name on a script if they didn’t write all of it. I would never want my name on something that I did not write most of. Part of television is you get rewritten. When I wrote for David Chase, I kept saying, “I’m going to write a script he can’t rewrite.” That was my mode. Not, “You’re just going to change it anyway.” So that’s the way it works here and I’m very open about it also, and not everybody is.