"Mad Men" fans may be able to breathe another sigh of relief.
After prolonged contract negotiations with series creator Matthew Weiner delayed the start of the show's fifth season, series star Jon Hamm has signed a three-year contract with the AMC cable network and the Lionsgate production studio to continue to star on the show as Don Draper, Deadline.com reported on Tuesday.
According to the site, the actor will earn eight figures for the deal and it stands to make him one of the highest paid actors in cable television. "Mad Men" was renewed for at least two more seasons after creator Weiner struck a reported $30 million deal with AMC and Lionsgate in April.
Jon Hamm stars in the series set in the 1960s as suave ad firm executive and partner Don Draper. It also features January Jones as his ex-wife, Elisabeth Moss as executive Peggy Olson and Christina Hendricks as voluptuous office manager Joan Harris.
"AMC and Lionsgate today announced the return of the iconic series 'Mad Men' for seasons five and six with series creator Matthew Weiner back on board as show runner," AMC said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. "Concurrently, it was announced that Weiner has signed a new long-term deal with Lionsgate, extending into a possible seventh season," the statement said.
If the show does in fact see a seventh season, it could be its final one.
Weiner told Deadline.com regarding his new deal: "These will be the last three seasons" of "Mad Men." He was quoted by the Hollywood Reporter as saying that "seven seasons seems like the right length for the life of the show and I'm very excited knowing that I have that canvas to paint on."
Under the agreement, Weiner will be paid $30 million and agreed to shorten each "Mad Men" episode by two minutes with the exception of the premiere and finale of the upcoming fifth season, the Hollywood Reporter said.
AMC also agreed to introduce product placement "only when deemed organic to the story, with Weiner having complete creative control," Deadline.com reported, quoting Weiner as saying no changes would be made to the show's existing policy and there have only been three instances of product placement on the program.
The sides also discussed possible cuts of regular cast members from the show, whose episodes reportedly cost $2.5 million to produce, Deadline.com said, adding that it was agreed that no one would be axed but quoted Weiner as saying he reserves the right to cut actors 'on creative basis.'
Production on the show's fifth season is slated to begin in August and Hamm is set to direct the fifth season premiere.
"The wheels have officially been set in motion to make that happen," Hamm told TVLine. "It's a very exciting challenge that I'm looking forward to with a mixture of utter fear and excitement."
The fifth season will premiere in March 2012.