In “TV speak”, a show runner is the person responsible for the day to day operations of a TV show (e.g. the person that “runs” the show). Although the show runner can, theoretically, be anyone, it is usually a writer, especially if that writer is a big part of the show’s existence. In the case of Mad Men, Matt Weiner is the head writer, a producer, and all around “grand poobah” of the series. And his contract with Lionsgate – the company that produces Mad Men – is up for renewal.
Weiner has asked for $10 million a year, a figure that Lionsgate claims is far too high for their basic cable budget. Since Lionsgate is contracted with AMC for two more seasons of the show, they’ll have to have someone be the show runner, even if that’s not Weiner. However, he is the heart and soul of a show that gets fantastic reviews, decent ratings, and also won the first “Best Drama” Emmy for a basic cable series.
As TV Squad notes, Lionsgate will have to pay Wiener the money. It’s that simple. Mad Men has a fanatic fan base (obviously), and any drop in quality would instantly be noticed by them. Without Wiener you have no show… so ante up the ducats, Lionsgate!
Read all about it here.