Q&A: 'Mad Men' creator talks tribute book, his next moves

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2016 file

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2016 file photo, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner poses at the 68th Directors Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles. A newly published two-volume, 1,000-page book set contains set photos and portraits, script pages, interviews and Dead Sea Scrolls-like minutiae including series creator Matthew Weiner's early scribbled notes outlining the drama. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File) (Credit: AP)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - (AP) -- "Mad Men" is a key part of the TV's modern golden age, and a detailed reminder of why has arrived.

A new two-volume, 1,000-page book set contains photos and portraits, script pages, interviews and Dead Sea Scrolls-like minutiae, including series creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner's early scribbled notes outlining his vision for the AMC series.

For Weiner, the books (Taschen, $200) offer evidence of the group effort behind "Mad Man," whose depiction of a changing 1960s America won a record-tying quartet of best-drama Emmy Awards. Its seven-season run concluded in 2015.

One book, the slimmer one, includes chapters on executive producer and director Scott Hornbacher; directors of cinematography Chris Manley and Phil Abraham; production designer Dan Bishop; costume designer Janie Bryant, and the show's deep writing bench of which Weiner was one member.

"I'm the person who got interviewed most of the time, myself and Jon Hamm, but hundreds were involved," Weiner said at a book launch party attended by series stars including Hamm, January Jones, Jessica Pare and Kiernan Shipka.

Weiner is a prominent voice in the book, offering insights on the evolution of lead character Don Draper (Hamm), the show's roots and the job of a showrunner. The hefty second volume is filled with beautifully reproduced photos from the series, with dialogue accompanying some.

A second team effort for Weiner is ahead, an Amazon anthology series inspired by Russia's last ruling family. But first up is a solo project: His inaugural novel due out this fall, "Heather: The Totality," about a teenage girl in peril.

He talked with The Associated Press about what's keeping him busy.

AP: Is it daunting to have your work enshrined in the books?

Weiner: The experiences that have gone with the experience of making this show, they're all daunting. I always feel I'm on the outside wondering, 'Who did this, how was I involved?' And especially now -- we're almost 10 years since we started the show -- I kind of look at it like it happened to someone else.

AP: Who do you imagine buying the set, 'Mad Men' addicts or art book fans?

Weiner: I think it's both. ... If you are a fan, there is so much behind-the-scenes stuff. ... I found these notes from 1992, before I even wrote the movie that became the pilot, where I'm talking about how badly my career is going and about my relationship with my wife and I don't want to disappoint (her). It's kind of like pulling your pants down in public (laughs).

AP: Did you relish working solo on the novel?

Weiner: (There was) the realization at a certain point, this was part of my transition out of the show and into the rest of my life, which was awesome and scary. I mean awesome not in the kids' awesome, but awesome like a terrifying, gigantic experience. ... All the work I did on it was contributing to a finished product. ... I had the 'Mad Men' script for seven years. It was a good script but it was not a show. There was something fascinating that this (the novel) is the thing I'm making, it doesn't need to be cast, I don't need to go on a location scout.

AP: You're jumping back in TV with Amazon's 'The Romanoffs.' Do you feel pressure to match 'Mad Men'?

Weiner: We opened the writers' room for that (the show). That's the moment when you say, 'I don't care if I talk about "Mad Men" for the rest of my life because it was an amazing experience and I don't expect to top it. .... But this is what I do. I'm always going to try.


Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .

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