HBO is a powerhouse when it comes to delivering smashing hit shows like ‘Games of Thrones’, ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘True Detective’. But what if the American period drama TV series ‘Mad Men’ was also part of its entourage? Till today, HBO CEO Richard Plepler wishes the cable network had not passed upon the opportunity in the mid-2000s.
- ‘True Detective’: HBO’s loss, a win for AMC
- HBO CEO wanted to nab ‘Mad Men’
- What if HBO had bagged ‘Mad Men’?
‘MAD MEN’: HBO’S LOSS, A WIN FOR AMC
When HBO passed on Matthew Weiner’s ‘Mad Men’, they did not realise what a mighty mistake they were making. The story of ‘Mad Men’ not getting picked by HBO has been doing rounds since 2009. Apparently, David Chase, who was Weiner’s boss on ‘The Sopranos’, had handed over the pilot script to HBO, which Weiner had written in 2001. But HBO wanted Chase to executive produce it alongside Weiner. The deal fell apart when Chase refused to come on board as he did not want to get involved in another series right after ‘The Sopranos’ wrapped.
Despite not having a show to replace ‘The Sopranos’ at that time, HBO made the mistake of passing ‘Mad Men’. While speaking at the “Innovative TV Conference” in Jerusalem, HBO CEO Plepler said, “From about 1995 to 2002, I think HBO ran one of the great insurgent campaigns in the history of modern entertainment. I think a little bit of hubris set in, we got a little bit complacent, and from 2002 to 2007, we made some mistakes”.
Ultimately, ‘Mad Men’ was picked up by AMC after it was gloriously rejected by both HBO and Showtime. The rest is history.
HBO CEO WANTED TO NAB ‘MAD MEN’
Plepler has always been an admirer of Weiner. At the Paley Center’s International Council Summit in New York City, Plepler openly declared his love for ‘Mad Men’– “I’m an unabashed fan of ‘Mad Men’. You know I love the show. I think Matt is a gifted writer and producer. I was a big fan of the show all through its incarnation”.
Then exclaimed Plepler, with a deep sigh, “Oh man, I wish we had that one”.
So is the HBO CEO regretting ‘Mad Men’?
Plepler says NO. He clarified, “Honest to god, we don’t spend time lamenting what we don’t have or mistakes. We spend all our energy and time focusing on, ‘What do we want to do now?’ ‘Who’s out there that we want to work with?'”
In fact, according to Plepler, it has been this forward-looking attitude that helped them rope John Oliver in the network.
WHAT IF HBO HAD BAGGED ‘MAD MEN’?
Did you know that ‘Mad Men’ isn’t the only show that HBO passed on in the last eight years? Yes, you heard that right. ‘Sons of Anarchy’, ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Breaking Bad’!
HBO did not even have faith in Vince Gilligan’s chemistry-teacher-gone-rogue plot. But AMC grabbed the opportunity and turned it into gold. ‘Breaking Bad’ will go down in history and unfortunately, HBO will not be a part of it.
But what if HBO had nabbed ‘Mad Men’?
AMC would have suffered the biggest brunt of it all. Without ‘Mad Men’, the network couldn’t afford to take the leap of faith into the American consciousness. ‘Mad Men’ was a huge bet for AMC. Unknown cast, first-time showrunner, high-budget period drama, and many more odds to overcome, making it a highly unusual network launcher.
The odds worked in AMC’s favour. The show was a success and fans, media, advertisers, everyone wanted a piece of it. ‘Mad Men’ opened a lot of doors for AMC, helping the network expand speedily into development.
Probably, ‘Mad Men’ under HBO would have been more carnal, with a lot more violence and nudity. How do you imagine ‘Mad Men’ to look like if it was an HBO production? Tell us in the comments below!