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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  May 24, 2014 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with matthew weiner, the creator of "mad men." the firstwill wrap episode of its final season. we are glad you joined us. ♪
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. thes: has generated some of most intense debates about what its main character has to tell us about ourselves. the creator has said don is an everyman. we will take a look at the scene from the first half of the final season. then i'm going to ask what he means by that. >> spare me the suspense. tell me what your save the day plan is.
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i want to hear the real one. >> this idea is good. >> you are going to pitch the -- out of my idea, and i'm going to fail? >> i want to do what you want to do. >> that's a tough one. >> you love this. >> not really. tavis: glad to have you back. do you want to start by unpacking what you meant? >> i don't usually referred to him as an antihero. antihero gets used a lot. i just don't judge him.
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youoint of view on him is are looking in the mere are in terms of knowing why people do things. it's a lack of judgment. the fact that people behave in a certain way. everybody has a reason. he is very virtuous. i think he's trying. there is no drama without the guy doing bad things. conflict. that's part of what is different. i always feel it is hard to be a person. that is my perspective. tavis: you always give me something to think about. i am going to start referring to situationallyuous
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. >> we all are. you wouldn't need them if everybody behaved great all the time. tavis: how can a character be as complex? >> a lot of that is casting. you can say what we want. i had a litmus test. my test at the end of it was at the end of the pilot you find out don is married. i going to hate this guy when i find out? am i going to find out he is ungrateful and the jerk? jon hamm has this quality. there is a natural integrity and a conscience.
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maybe he feels bad. it made him so he wasn't really a jerk, so he was a real person. there is repentance. there is all these things he can do in life. there is a journey to be a better person, but i think his awareness of the damage he was doing and the desire to make it right over and over again is what saves him. john projects that. heis: speaking of what projects, you could have written him in a way -- there are all kinds of characters who have gone on to be iconic that we end up hating. you could have written him in a way that made us like this guy less. >> i don't think about what is likable.
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theadded a lot of temperament to the character. his explosive temper or his desire -- a lot of these business confrontation scenes are meant to be confrontational. he has this stuffing someone's face with it. there is good and bad. when you have a show like this that doesn't have huge plot points and you get to find out why people are doing things and the difference between the way we are when we are with other people and when we are alone, so much of it is about privacy. you kind of start to get this understanding, but the fact that people root for him and are interested him on some level, i don't know what to tell you. fascinating. >> it fascinating about human nature because i think they are nicer to don than to other people in their lives. tavis: he is a handsome guy.
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it helps. >> but the sad truth. with all due respect -- they are wonderful actors. thisnd your team cast series beautifully with great actors. agos thinking a day or so -- i don't want to take anything away. they are good actors. peoplee given these careers. you have put them on the map in a way they have not been regarded before. >> i used to wake up and say what if i didn't cast john hamm. it would be over. it's a two-way street. you pick the wrong person, and
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you are done. all of these people were working actors when i met them. i hate the prejudice against credit and experience and god forbid you do something that sales and no one wants anything to do with you. i like experienced people. they have long resumes but no one thought him as someone who could carry it. christina hendricks had deals with other tv shows. she had been on tv a lot and films, and she took this job, and her manager fired her. they said, what are you doing? , peopled of risk-taking who make it right away don't always behave when they get it. elizabeth maas who plays peggy
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they are child actors. she has been acting since she was three. is theyat is exciting are known for these parts and they don't have other associations. they have grown so much. we got to make them change and not change. dream was if i get to do the whole decade, however amazing will it be? the pilot was about this is not like you think. it's darker. people are more like they are now. they are not so virtuous. these are real people, and they come from a dark lace like all people and have challenges, but you will look back on the pilot and the nostalgic. -- he nostalgic. look how simple it was. thingsi was thinking of that happened that are out of your control and sometimes are
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good for you. i was thinking about the brilliant way in your writing you have covered the tumultuous the years that you have covered. well you have how done that. i was thinking about elizabeth abramsonntext of jill being fired from the new york times. >> a lot has changed. a lot has a change. we knew peggy olson as a secretary. we know she didn't go to college. we have seen her opportunities for various reasons. champion, buter he has also been a problem for her. earning of somebody
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confidence. to me what happens in the real world. people should watch that show every day and be grateful it's not how it was. the issues of being a person have a change. a lot of things are just as bad as they ever were. anymore,deny this partly because i have kids. you take someone like donald sterling where people would have said, the guy is 80 years old. that's the way it was. that's like five years ago they would have said that. now there is zero tolerance. , business built on this everyone as far as i can tell is doing the right thing. this man is going to be taken from this economic opportunity because of his attitude. that kind of intolerance for that behavior, that's not part
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of anything. the thing that is different is the virtue of behaving well. that seems to be a little sketchy now. i think society and the law is pushing on it, but i think rightly -- my kids are race blind. they are gender blind. they say ridiculous things that make me feel horrible. i am sorry. i thinkry i said that. the attitudes are different. some things we have reached the end of. a woman can do a man's job. -- would we talk about we, we are talking about white men. a woman has to sit down and say, we are doing this, and they know no one is including her.
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i still feel like a little bit of that success segregation. saying, ifok at it you are a woman right now you still have the same problems you have ever had. you have to deal with having a family, which men don't deal with. we want it. i love my kids, and i am there, but my wife runs her own business also, and we are basically spending a lot of time feeling guilty, but in the end someone gets a cut at school, my wife is going to get them. i don't want to be that way, but it's just expected. they won't even call me first. that's the way it is. going to perhaps sound gratuitous. can i do a shout out to your wife? >> absolutely. linda. tavis: she's your wife, but i
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know her name. had the magazine onset. there is a gorgeous spread of your home. i wouldn't put it out there if it weren't on the cover of a magazine. i love architecture and design. done two or three houses. i love it. what she did with that house. the spread in your office. >> i am very lucky. tavis: i spent a lot of time working on the bed. i am intimidated by this place. there are all these things that can keep you from working. tavis: if you can get a copy of it. you want to see the house matthew weiner lives in? check out the magazine. >> what is interesting as we have a different take creative lead. she doesn't believe in rules. she takes it by the client and the person.
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she also believes, there is no rules. things are so pale and homogenized. people are afraid to live in color. she just didn't. it's a house filled with kids. that's what we really wanted. i love this. to walk out of the middle of the set. >> can i get a chocolate milkshake? tavis: this house -- can you get that? the house is divine. i want to show you one other photo. you havelove what done. i love it. i was talking about matt's
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office. that linda office did for him. i want to notice the bookshelf. it's a window. just a gorgeous design. krakauer my going to go in there? i want to live in their. i'm not a good enough writer to work in that state. tavis: if you can get a copy you can see the home they share with those lovely boys. how do those creative people ?artner it seems like a wonderful thing. >> it is. we have different jobs. one of the things that is great about being with someone who is creative who has a different or
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fashion, when she succeeds i can be happy because we are not competing. she is not like that. she had a line she contributed to the show. she is a big part of it. there is a big line in the can'tse where i said, i tell the difference between what's good and what's awful, and she said, they're very close. relationship in terms of what our work is. we both love to work. there is not a lot of guilt over being obsessed or writing something down during dinner or sketching something. all my vacation photos i have no pictures of the kids. it is railings and stair treads. i have to get used to that. she is obsessed, and it makes a big difference. it's a beautiful
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partnership. go back and unpack for me this notion of success segregation and where you see in most prominent in our society today. societye a capitalist motivated by money, but i do feelings about those who have not made it yet our criminal. i think it's not christian. it's not american. i grew up with this idea of people on welfare don't want to work. it sort of disappeared. there is an idea that if you don't have something nice, you are not good enough. if you are not successful you have not tried hard enough, then there is something wrong with you. that you wouldn't know what to do if you got it. it is a high level when two
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people are very successful. a lot of madmen comes from reading the biographies and studying the great figures of the 20th century. there is mobility and the united states. i'm not going to trash the united states. it's one of the few places where you can get out of a prison camp from cambodia. >> we still have some mobility. >> they have done everything they can to destroy it. it sounds simplistic. for me the idea is i am successful, so i am a good person. you are not successful, so you did something wrong. feels like it is from three or 400 years ago. i see it all the time. the funny thing is you start behaving that way. then the entire culture becomes run on payback. you shouldn't count anybody out. that person you look down on us going to be your boss.
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that could totally happen. you're going to run into them. you know what's funny? you were the one who has to decide if you are doing the right thing. you can trust anyone's opinion. it's always stunning to me. roger sterling says 99% of the time the business comes down to i don't like that guy. at a highy works level. this advertising merger that couldn't happen because they couldn't decide who was more important. when i say success segregation i simplest formhe
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that women can't rise to the level they are entitled to unless they are born with money or unstoppable in some way. forgetting about equality, just the idea that someone who is not where you are -- and it gets worse and worse. to not pay an extra $100 have to drive through a poor neighborhood, to go to the front of the airplane, to do all of this. basically your attitude about other people -- i am revealing my politics, but i think it's very bad for this country, to assume someone who does not have what you have is less of a person than you is not something that -- maybe it has always been part of the culture, but i see it now, and people are so -- not since the 80's when i went to college and saw someone with a poster that said "kill the
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poor." i don't get it. tavis: i don't think you are naïve. i think what you're talking about is one of the remnants of income inequality run amok. but i don't want to advocate for religion, but you take someone like the rockefellers. this man was a carnivorous capitalist, destroyed a lot of businesses, took a lot of people out. they built the you in, -- rthe un, the rockefeller center, they financed during the great depression to give people jobs. there was a sense, even if it was the most patronizing thing in the world, that your job was to make the world a better place. i don't see any of this money being shared. i think there is a contempt for everyone who doesn't have it. the worst thing is i think they are screwing themselves. i don't know if i'm allowed to say that. tavis: i think you did.
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>> who is going to buy everything if they don't have the money. you have got to have something else in life. tavis: i thought about quincy joneses life -- advice to me. be careful because the toes you step on today may be connected to the behind you have to kiss tomorrow. >> that is sage wisdom. >> i cleaned that up a little bit. can i just say -- i am not happy that i have to wait until 2015 to watch the last seven episodes. >> i am hoping you will be really happy when sunday's episode airs that next year there will be some more show because we're working really hard on it. it will be a big finish. that wasn't my decision, but i feel a downton abbey has eight episodes every season and no one is complaining. good, as myave done
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grandpa would say. it's amazing to me how a show that comes from out of nowhere becomes part of the american zeitgeist. it's a conversation we have every week. that has got to feel good. you have done something we have talked about for years. >> it's a minute now, and it's ending. you sort of say, i am very grateful, and i am grateful to the people. i'm grateful that i got to meet all these amazing people and learned so much and test myself. tavis: we are going to be on hiatus in august. >> it's caracciolo -- it's called "are you here? ' it's about some of the things we are talking about even though it's a comedy. tavis: a no grass growing under your feet. i am inviting myself over to the house. i guess the least you can do is
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a tour.a two or -- the last episode this sunday. we will be waiting for a few more months for the last episode. something tells me it will be worth the wait. always an honor to have you on this program. these conversations are so rich for me. we could talk about madman, but you bring so much more to the conversation. i appreciate it. >> i appreciate talking to you because you really listen. show: that's it for our tonight. as always, thanks for watching, and keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation about the 50th anniversary of freedom summer with david goodman, the brother of slain civil rights leader andrew goodman. that's next time. we will see you then. ♪
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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funding for this program is provided by the gruber family foundation and by the members of kqed. >> a co-production of kqed and center for investigatie ive reporting. >> california's san joaquin valley is one of the most productive farm regions in the world, yet the people who live and work near those farms can't always access that bounty. >> they're picking fresh fruit for everybody else, but actually they don't even have fresh fruit for their own family. >> families in the central valley experience some of the nation's highest levels of food insecurity. >> one in four families are at the risk of going to sleep hungry. one in three children are at risk of being hungry. >> in tolarie county, the food bank is already feeding a fourth


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