August 15, 2011

THE SKED: ” Breaking” Better

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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After last night’s admirably tense episode of BREAKING BAD, we can now say with certainty that the show has 25 left to go:  9 for this season, and then 16 more.  AMC and Sony have closed a deal for what is expected to be the series’ final 16 episode order, ending the (always unlikely) possibility that the show would move to another network.  The new deal seems fairly rational:  the 16 episodes will all be shot together (so talent deals need only be for 1 additional season, not 2), but will probably play out over the next 2 years (so AMC can limit its yearly cost).  Sony has agreed to take some continuing deficit on the series, which presumably makes sense in light of the show’s success on homevideo and other platforms.
Now that AMC has locked up final runs for both MAD MEN and Breaking Bad over the next 2 years, the all-important issue for it is:  what next?  THE KILLING has no more than a 50/50 chance of still being around at that point, unless it drastically repairs the rift it’s created with viewers, and HELL ON WHEELS, at first glance, doesn’t have the look of a breakout hit.  That leaves THE WALKING DEAD, which will have to proceed without its creator/showrunner, and with a budget significantly lower than the one it had for its first season.  Also, in TV terms, 2 years isn’t nearly as long as it sounds:  AMC will doubtless want to be able to premiere its new shows on the backs of its signature hits, and in order to get on the air in 2013, those shows will have to be in development and piloted in 2012.  In other words:  you wouldn’t want to be an AMC creative executive right now.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."