“Please turn off your phones! Don’t spoil plot lines! That’s the last time I’m ever going to say that!”
Matt Weiner, the notoriously secretive creator of AMC’s "Mad Men,” hollered his off-mike plea to a room of gussied-up guests just as the lights dimmed for a screening of the show’s last “premiere” episode.
Held Wednesday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown L.A., the final premiere event for “Mad Men” was a black tie soiree billed as the “Black & Red Ball.” And Weiner’s request to keep plot points secret somehow only seemed fitting as the final “official” words of the night.
Inside the grand venue, whose lobby was once used on “Mad Men” as a stand-in for a Rome hotel, it was a night of reflection. Before the screening, AMC President Charlie Collier lauded the network’s breakout drama that helped put AMC on the map.
“Success comes from standing out, not fitting in,” he told the room of guests. “In the history of television, very few series have ever stood out quite like ‘Mad Men.'”
He continued: “It has been said many times—and this is on the Internet, so it has to be true—that ‘Mad Men’ has changed the face of television. In the history of television, there will be a permanent line of demarcation: Before ‘Mad Men’ and After 'Mad Men.'”
And to underscore the show’s link to the passage of time, Collier noted the growth of Kiernan Shipka from Don Draper’s pipsqueak 6-year-old daughter to an all-grown-up young lady (with shots of Shipka from Season 1, Season 3, Season 5, and Season 7 up on the screen.)
After some of the show’s department heads and stars--sans Elisabeth Moss, who is appearing on Broadway--were called up to the stage for a moment of applause, Weiner offered some final thoughts:
“People keep asking how I’m feeling: ‘Are you sad?’ ‘What’s it like?’ he said. “All I know is whatever sadness I felt, I do not feel it about tonight. Tonight I’m just looking forward to it as maybe as the first and last ever complete ‘Mad Men’ convention.
“I’m kind of overwhelmed by this opportunity to turn ideas and American history and a bunch of people that I made up into a party this big nine years later,” he added. “In the end, I suppose, I’ll be by myself with a computer again.”
But not before a little more celebration.
Following the screening, guests were ushered to the second, third and fourth levels of the venue, where tables were decked out with bouquets of crimson roses as ornate chandeliers hung above. The backdrop to the stairs was adorned with life-size posters of the cast (Shipka took a photo near the Sally Draper image, naturally).
On the second, main level, the stars of the show each had a “reserved” table near the dance floor where the Avalon Jazz Band (and later, a DJ) played tunes such as “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and “My Guy” before transitioning into Coolio’s "Gangsta’s Paradise” and The Fugee’s “Ready or Not” near the end of the night.
Guests included Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer and Ty Burrell, the latter of whom chatted it up with Rich Sommer at the buffet line while they filled their plates with salmon and brussels sprouts.
It was the kind of night Jon Hamm, who stars as the drama’s leading man Don Draper, had predicted four hours earlier when doing interviews on the red carpet.
“I’m just glad people showed up,” he told The Times. “People are wearing nice clothing, and nice shoes—even me! We just want to have fun and go out with a bang.”
The second stretch of "Mad Men's" seventh and final season begins April 5.
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Show Tracker is taking a daily look at all things "Mad Men" as the groundbreaking show begins airing its final seven episodes April 5.