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After months and months of heated and disastrous negotiations between AMC and Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, it seemed like progress was being made. Both sides were at least in the same ballpark monetarily and discussions were ongoing as to when the project could be finished by. Let this be a lesson. If something goes horribly for nearly a year and then suddenly all seems rosy, chances are there’s probably some lingering hostility underneath the surface that could still kill the deal.

According to Deadline, an agreement still probably will get done, but regardless of what happens, the network is moving ahead with the fifth season of Mad Men. AMC released a statement today saying new episodes will begin airing one year from now in March 2012. It’s hard to imagine that Matt Weiner won’t be aboard by then, but the statement is a clear message that the cable channel has more bargaining chips than some would like to give them credit for.

Apparently, if the money comes, it will be for two years and around thirty million, but the main sticking points are episode length, the cast and product placement. AMC wants a few minutes nipped from each offering so they can run another commercial break. They also want two cast members at least paired back to recurring status and a few in season paid endorsements. Weiner currently isn’t budging on any of those demands, but my guess would be he’s either going to need to give up one or two. If he were smart, he’d elect to chop a few minutes off to save at least one of the cast members. Then again, he’s the mastermind behind one of the best cable shows ever; so, I probably shouldn’t tell him how to do his job.

Expect a resolution to this whole mess shortly.

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