6 Questions with “BEHIND THE STORY: Man Men” Host Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider is the Chief Content Officer of TV Guide magazine, a Franklin Avenue blogger, and a host of KCRW’s The Spin-Off. And as if all that didn’t keep him busy enough, he took the time to interview the cast of Mad Men for BEHIND THE STORY WITH THE PALEY CENTER, airing Fri., May 15 at 11/10c on SundanceTV. Here he shares what he learned about the cast and his favorite moments from the seven seasons of the show.
Q: You did an amazing host for the BEHIND THE STORY: MAD MEN panel. Did you learn anything new about the cast?
A: I learned a lot about the camaraderie on set and how close the actors were off-camera. The fact that even into the show’s final season, the stars were all interacting together in what was essentially a break lounge, made it sound like the most exclusive hot spot in all of Los Angeles. I wish I was there!
Q: What are you going to miss most when Mad Men goes off the air?
A: I’ll really miss being transported to that universe. That era, those characters, that feeling you get when you watch the show. Matt Weiner’s attention to detail is legendary, and it completely immersed you in that world, in a way that few other television shows have done. I want to spend the day at SC&P, or at Don’s Park Avenue penthouse. I even want to travel back to the gritty late 1960s New York, as that city was tearing apart at the seams.
Q: What was it like to be the victim of the Don Draper stare?
A: I think Jon Hamm and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. Before I knew it, I was in a staring contest on stage with him… and then it kept going… and going. The crowd ate it up at first, but ultimately I won. Or I think I won. Jon Hamm told me he finally blinked in order to move on. Some media accounts gave him the win. And I’ve been told that Jon Hamm is a very competitive guy, so perhaps the staring contest could have gone even longer. But no matter what, I’ve gotta say, that was a career highlight.
Q: You probed Jon Hamm and Kiernan Shipka about the sensitive scene when Sally walks in on Don. Why did you think that was important to explore?
A: That, to me, was one of the most important moments in the entire series. At that moment, Don hits rock bottom. Don’s done a lot of terrible things on the show, but the moment Sally walks in on Don, it changes their relationship forever. But it also lays the groundwork for Don to eventually let Sally in on who he really is—and ultimately, even though their relationship is still rocky, they now have a unique bond.
Q: Do you have a personal favorite episode of Mad Men?
A: It’s tough to choose just one, but “Shut the Door, Have a Seat” (Season 3) has it all: The end of Don and Betty’s marriage, and the birth of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
Q: Which character would you want to play if you were in the series?
A: I don’t think that’s even up for debate. Don Draper has the money, the ladies, the power. Of course, I could do without all the inner demons. But three out of four ain’t bad!