Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MM@M: Live From Times Square

TV's greatest show has a love affair with the movies. So we have a love affair with TV's greatest show. We call it Mad Men @ The Movies.

The world premiere party for Mad Men Season 4 kicked off in Times Square a few hours before the show on Sunday night. I was honored to be invited so I must give thanks to the wonderful Lipp sisters of Basket of Kisses who always keep me in the swing of things when it comes to Sterling Cooper, excuse me, SCDP (Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce). It's always good to hang with the vivacious Lipps and I also got to chat with other MM fans including the adorable talented Carol Hannah of Project Runway fame.

The VIP crowd got Barbies. I managed to procure a Don & Betty set. (More on these dolls here. They retail for $75)

Left: Me (the hat was with the gift bag); Right: Girl from costume contest. I didn't catch her name but that's totally a Betty dress (the Barbie is wearing that same dress, albeit in miniature). She bought it on eBay which the judges called cheating.

This is the whole crowd shortly before the actresses arrived (hence the empty front row). I've circled the Lipp Sisters up front, true VIPs, and then that's me, further back to the side. It was a good crowd. Lots of rubbernecking on the street.

The evening came with two trivia contests (Pt 1 too easy / Pt 2 just right), two celebrity cameos from "Peggy" (Elisabeth Moss) and "Betty" January Jones who is sexy and statuesque in person and looks nothing like Elizabeth Hofstadt Draper Francis without the 60s costumes and hairstyling. My only gripe about the evening was that the panel of judges for the costume contest was quippy/bitchy to the contestants and, this being a fan event, more softball American Idol style criticisms were the way to go. If you have to criticize, tell them you love them first. They're fans. They aren't professional costumers.

January Jones and Elisabeth Moss. They joked that they were nothing like their characters but they were maybe like each other's characters. haha. The crowd sang Moss happy birthday and they wheeled out a cake.

The view from my seat. A crowded stage for the costume contest.

The strangest thing that happened at the event (for me... few noticed) was just outside of it. Before the actual screening, two teenage girls to the left of me on the street just outside the VIP area starting screaming. I turned to see what the commotion was about. There was a young guy, perfectly coiffed and teen idol fresh (he couldn't have been over 17, if that) who agreed to sign autographs for them. He was not with the Mad Men event, just walking through Times Square and had stopped momentarily to look at the party. The two teen girls were crying and hysterical and one even tried to touch his hair, her fingers visibly shaking like he was a hot stove and she just wanted to know what it would feel like... just this one time! Her friend slapped her hand away before the burn, both of them crying. Since he had bent over to sign something, he didn't even notice. I have no idea who this person was, but he handled it like a pro, smiling, asking where they were from ("O h h h i i i o" warbled through tears).

I've decided he was from the Disney Channel since that's where all the "stars" that I've never heard of or don't recognize come from. The girl he was with was visibly annoyed by the hysterics but stayed off to the side, dutifully, before grabbing his arm to pull him from a potential mob scene. No one else mobbed and suddenly they were gone. I'm surprised anyone is ever recognized in Times Square. It's always so crowded that you can barely spot your loved ones if you get separated, let alone a celebrity in their off duty hours.

Where were we?

This post is going to be so long. Oh yes, Mad Men. Here's what you missed in the first three seasons if you're planning to start now...

On to Season 4 and its movie-loving ways... however those turn out.

Episode 4.1 "Public Relations"
My preferred title How Draper Got His Groove Back. In this episode, we try to get acclimated to the new offices (there's too many doors. I miss the open space), new characters (who is Peggy's co-worker? Love Henry Francis's mom played by Pamela Dunlap) while trying to stay patient (What is going on with Joanie's marriage? Where the hell is Ken Cosgrove?). Don reminds us of his movie-loving ways early in the episode through his pride in a commercial that plays like a movie. Plotwise Don and Peggy both make separate PR blunders. By episode's end Peggy gets an angry earful and Don gets his mojo back, professionally speaking.

On the personal life side, he's still a trainwreck. He's even blind dating ...and letting Roger, whose lovelife he doesn't exactly approve of, set him up.
Roger: Forget that she knows Jane. This girl's terrific. She looks like Virginia Mayo. She's 25. See her this weekend. You hit it off, come Turkey day you can stuff her.
Hmmm. Does Anna Camp (from True Blood) playing "Bethany" look like Virginia Mayo? You be the judge.

In a strange coincidence I was just watching Virginia Mayo in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). She's terrific as the trashy restless wife of Dana Andrews. (That movie is so great.) People don't really speak much of Mayo these days but referencing her apple cheeked pinup looks is most definitely a compliment. She was a frequent movie presence from the early 40s through the late 50s. In addition to the aforementioned Best Picture winner, she's probably best remembered for noirs like White Heat and frequent Danny Kaye comedies including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. She died just five years ago at the age of 84.

Mayo with Danny Kaye and with Dana Andrews

other references in this episode: (Music) novelty single "John & Marsha" (Magazines/Papers) Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, The Daily News (Celebrities) Luci & Dezi

Did you see this episode? If so, your comments please. If not, speak up anyway. How cool are those Barbie dolls? Or are you sick of the hype? (If you are, please note that there will be only one Mad Men post a week, Mondays, starting now.)

Further reading?
Gold Derby thinks Mad Men is well timed for an Emmy 3peat.
The Loop publishes a satirical letter from "Carla," the Draper maid.
The Loop also has a rebuttal of sort. Claiming that the show isn't diverse enough is entirely missing the point.
Cinematic Passions interviews costume designer Janie Bryant
Inside Scoop bring back chicken kiev.
Mad Men Unbuttoned the tune that's playing when Don gets his groove back.
Put This On imagines how Draper would look in the WSJ. Love.
Cinema Blend Sugarberry Hams for everyone. A ratings uptick.
Best Week Ever gives funny recap...and awards.


Mirko S. said...

I love Virginia Mayo very much. she was a lovely but still strong presence on screen. I think her perfs in THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES and in Raoul Walsh's WHITE HEAT deserved to be Oscar nominated.

I love her very much also in COLORADO TERRITORY (HIGH SIERRA remade as a western...Walsh was a director that offered very good occasions) and THE FLAME AND THE HARROW where she plays the girl who steals the heart (very easy to understand!) from bandit Burt Lancaster


I need to see more. I remember her in the Danny Kaye pictures and Best Years of course but i don't think i've seen any of the westerns and maybe only one of the noirs.

Anonymous said...

I was there too! SO fun. Elisabeth Moss and January Jones -- so pretty -- JJones, also very skinny.

I got into Mad Men on DVD so my biggest concern this season is dealing with waiting a whole week before the next episode.

I needed more Joanie. That's my biggest complaint for this season. And also like WTF happened to Ken and Kinsey.

I'm so intrigued *SPOILER ALERT* about how the Don and Betty drama is going to play out this season especially with Betty now being married to Henry.

I think that's all I have. I have been trying to read everything online to hold me over until Sunday.

How weird that the woman entered the costume contest as Rachel Menken and then carried around a little doll that was supposed to be Sally?!?!

SusanP said...

Nat, love your coverage--I wonder who those teen girls were going nutso for? (I'm sure my nieces would approve.)

As for the episode -- I thought it was a great set-up for the season. It gives us a rough idea of where everyone's been and reminds us of how much we've missed them (even Pete, ha ha!) My only complaint was not enough Joan, but I'm sure that is coming.

Based on those photos, I think that actress is a "Virginia Mayo" type.

It will be interesting where they take Don's character from here. In a way, the women in the show have a lot more room for growth--I'm not sure that single Don can reconcile his fantasy of what his life should be with the cold hard reality of what it really is (or what would actually make him happy).

cal roth said...

Virginia Mayo should have won the Oscar for White Heat. One of the best femme fatale performances ever in one of the best movies ever!

adelutza said...

For some reason I was a bit disappointed with the episode, I would've liked to see how they set up shop, how the whole divorce played out , etc. But I guess we'll find out in the next episodes.


adelutza -- i like the time jumps myself but i was also a smidgeon disappointed. Not because it wasn't good. It sure was. But because it wasn't enough. Why not a two hour premiere?

I really need more Joan Holloway in my life.

Jazz said...

first up loved the barbie dolls - are you actually going to play with them? :p

I loved the episode. The scene at the dinner table with Sally was superb. What a scene stealer.

Yup glad it's back, missed it and loved the blog entry


Jazz -- isn't it weird how quickly Sally grew up. That time frame is so wweird in people's lives. she's suddenly a different person.

Jazz said...

Yes! She sprouted up. I'm sure she wasn't that big last season. ( i may need to borrow the DVD box set again off my colleague)
It's almost like Sally had Soap opera syndrome, where they go from being 3 to 16 overnight :D