March 21st, 2012
04:28 PM ET
"Mad Men" fans recall all too well the contract negotiations that delayed the AMC show's fifth season to this weekend's March start, but creator Matthew Weiner says the show itself was never in jeopardy.
Having him on board...that's another story.
"The show always had a future, but whether I was going to be a part of it was definitely in question," Weiner told CNN recently at "Mad Men's" season 5 launch party in Los Angeles. "I walked away, and it was a hard thing to do."
Thankfully, "in the end everything worked out, so I have no complaints about it. I'm actually hoping that the minute this goes on the air no one will ever talk about [the contract dispute] ever again," Weiner said with a laugh. "I love the show and I love the audience. And I was fighting for the show, and part of this two-hour premiere is about people having to wait so long."
It has been a while since we last saw Don Draper, Betty Draper-Francis and the team at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and star Jon Hamm gave us a refresher on where Don is at the start of the season.
"Well, he kind of lost the touchstone to [the Dick Whitman part of himself] when Anna passed away, and that was a big blow to Don," Hamm said. "In many ways that helped pull him out of his sort of season-long funk he was working through, with the dissolution of his marriage and the problems with the business and managing his life - that was a wake-up call for him."
Hamm added that he hopes people are still willing to "root" for Don after all these years. "I hope people root for redemption," he said. "He's not necessarily the easiest guy to root for always but he does try to do the right thing."
Speaking of characters that aren't easy to love, you can't overlook January Jones' Betty Draper-Francis - and it turns out Jones herself isn't a big fan, either.
"I definitely don't need to like the character I'm playing," Jones told CNN. "I don't judge the characters I play, but I have a fondness for her and I find myself defending her often. I think she's misunderstood but obviously she has some unlikable qualities. I don't think she would necessarily be my pal, but I think she's trying."
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