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Matthew Weiner: HBO didn’t even read the Mad Men pilot

Former The Sopranos screenwriter Weiner recalled feeling hurt that HBO didn’t even respond to the Mad Men pitch before the series landed on AMC.

After writing episodes of The Sopranos, Matthew Weiner thought he was part of the HBO “family.”

However, the Mad Men creator revealed that new management of the network following the departure of visionary Chris Albrecht meant he was ignored, as revealed in new book It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO” by Felix Gillette and John Koblin.

According to the network’s oral history, then-HBO President Carolyn Strauss “snubbed” Weiner, and HBO didn’t even respond to the “Mad Men” pitch, despite “The Sopranos” showrunner David Chase “urging everyone on the network to give it.” insight.”

Weiner recalls, “It was very disappointing to me when I was pushing the rock up the hill that they didn’t notice me. Because I was part of the family.”

Eventually, “Mad Men” ended up on cable network AMC, whose goal was “to make a kind of HBO series,” as Weiner put it. Set in the 1960s, “Mad Men” marked breakthrough performances for Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks and January Jones, and racked up 16 Emmy wins over seven seasons before ending in 2015. The series is heralded as the beginning of the second wave of the Golden Age of TELEVISION.

“That’s been [former HBO CEO] Richard [Plepler] ‘s bugaboo forever,” Strauss said of losing “Mad Men” under her tenure. “Tell me a programmer who didn’t share something. If you want to blame that as my grave original sin.”

Strauss split from HBO in 2008, a year after Mad Men premiered on AMC. Strauss had also passed on Marc Cherry’s Desperate Housewives, which was directly inspired by the critically acclaimed HBO series Sex and the City and Six Feet Under.

Cherry sold Desperate Housewives to ABC packaged as a “network version of what an HBO show is.” The soapy suburban drama beat HBO’s “The Wire” in the Sunday Nielsen ratings, leading to HBO putting financial pressure on the Baltimore-based crime series that went on to gain a second audience and cult status. “The Wire” did not win any Emmy Awards during its run from 2002 to 2008, but was later named one of the best television series of the 21st century and helped launch the careers of Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan and Michael K Williams .

“We’ve been on the verge of not coming back every season,” co-creator David Simon previously said. “In fact, the studio actually waited until all contracts were up to start talks. I assured them that everyone would come back and there would be no budget increases, not really knowing if that was the case, if anyone would come back. I had to call them all and luckily they all agreed not to ask for bigger trailers or anything like that.”

For the series’ 20th anniversary, co-creator Ed Burns claimed that “The Wire” would not be filming on HBO today.

“Well, it has to be ‘Game of Thrones.’ It has to be big. It has to be separated from stepping on someone’s toes,” Burns said. “I’ve seen a few of the limited series on HBO and they’re good shows, but they don’t break new ground. They’re detectives or those rich women fighting in a town. I don’t see anyone saying, ‘Hey, this is a really great show.’”

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