When Matthew Weiner, the wizard behind AMC’s “Mad Men,” stepped through the doors Sunday night at the drama's finale after-party in downtown Los Angeles, it was as if he had just completed a revelatory hippie spiritual retreat a la Don Draper.
Most of Los Angeles (at least, the portion that watched the show) was still 30 minutes away from the West Coast airing of the curtain closer, but anchored at the entrance of Segovia Hall inside the Ace Hotel, Weiner could barely take in a moment with his son, Marten Weiner -- better known to “Mad Men” viewers as Glen Bishop -- without friends and attendees stopping to offer congratulatory pats on the back, handshakes and hugs.
Matthew Weiner, familiar with the hit-or-miss outcomes of finales as a writer on “The Sopranos,” seemed to have met expectations, at least for those inside the hotel. He met each greeter with a smile and implored: “Did you enjoy it?” or “What did you think?”
The 49-year-old writer gave well-defined endings to the show's characters -- from love (Peggy and Stan!) and power plays (Joan!) to an implied yoga-inspired Coke ad (Don!?). It was enough to cause the 1,600 people who attended a screening of the finale at the hotel's United Artists Theater to leap to their feet in applause at the end of it all -- even if reaction on social media was hot and cold.
But the madness -- and praise -- inside the hotel continued well beyond the party's entrance.
Leading man Jon Hamm, caught near the crowded food line, was also bombarded with adoration from attendees, and after a brief talk with film director Jay Roach, he was roped into posing for a photo with Kiernan Shipka (Sally) and the show’s costume designer Janie Bryant. AMC President and General Manager Charlie Collier. making the rounds, expressed the bittersweetness of the show's close. Later near the entrance, Aaron Staton, who played Ken Cosgrove, was talking video games with Marten Weiner. Up at the dimly lighted rooftop portion of the party: Jessica Paré, who played Megan, was talking with friends while smoking a cigarette, just feet away from Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.
It was a goodbye without much sadness. Then again, the “Mad Men” gang have made an art out of bidding adieu, taking part in various “final season” events leading up to the final end credits. And Sunday was no different.
In a daylong spree, the “Mad Men” cast and crew took part in a panel discussion in Hollywood before darting across town to serve as audience members to a Jason Reitman-led live reading of a first-season script at the Ace Hotel — among those in the staged production were Colin Hanks as Don Draper, Ashley Greene as Joan, Kevin Pollack as Bertram Cooper and Fred Savage as Pete Campbell.
The real cast later took to the stage, along with Weiner, ahead of the screening of the series finale. And Weiner offered this bit of thanks to fans.
“I’m so grateful — we are all so grateful — to have … I will call this a relationship — even by Jon’s standards, this is a relationship, with an audience like this,” Weiner said before the screening of the finale. “It has been our pleasure to perform for you and to work on this.”
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