Q&A: Canadian 'Mad Men' writer Semi Chellas on Emmy nom, reaction to finale | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Q&A: Canadian 'Mad Men' writer Semi Chellas on Emmy nom, reaction to finale

July 19, 2015 - 5:00 AM

TORONTO - Calgary-raised screenwriter Semi Chellas was in the heart of "Mad Men" land when news broke about her latest Emmy Award nomination for the series.

She was in a Manhattan office, on a conference call for the upcoming HBO miniseries "Codes of Conduct," when a staff member scribbled the good news on a piece of paper and passed it under her door.

It's been a year since the cast and crew wrapped production on the series, which ended its seventh and final season in May.

But when she got that slip of paper under the door Thursday, Chellas was instantly brought back to the good times on set.

The Canadian Press spoke with the five-time Emmy nominee — who is a contender this year along with "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner in the best writing in a drama category — about her favourite moments from the final season, the reaction to the big finale, and preparing for the haters.

CP: The episode that you were nominated for ("Lost Horizon"), what was it about that episode do you think that stood out?

Chellas: I feel like in 'Mad Men' there weren't a lot of fist pumps in the whole series.

It's not a show that sometimes gives you a: 'Yeah, you go!' (feeling). There are two almost ones (in "Lost Horizon" but) they're both undercut in the episode.

There's Peggy walking in with her incredible hangover and her sunglasses, her smoke dangling, her obscene painting, sort of like: 'Here I come, McCann/the rest of my life,' which is a weird kind of fist-pump undercut by the degree to which you would be hung over if you drank vermouth with Roger Sterling for 14 hours.

And then there's Joan, of course, and weirdly the scene where she, in the end, has her moment — where she stands up for herself, she is fighting for the money that she's owed as her partnership. In that episode you see the disrespect, small and large, that she undergoes at a new job where she's not among our beloved characters. And then you see her stand up and say her piece and say, 'You better give me my money or else,' and she says, 'I'm going to have the ACLU in your lobby with Betty Friedan.'

Again, I think there's a very cathartic, exciting moment in that scene, even though he just gives her 50 cents on the dollar and then she ends up taking it and leaving with nothing but a Rolodex and a picture of her kid.

It's also an episode where Don left advertising and drove off to places unknown in the West.

So I think it was a watershed for three of the most beloved characters in the series.

CP: Have you spoken with Matt (Weiner) about the nomination? What did he have to say?

Chellas: He was really happy and overwhelmed. We were sort of both feeling so much nostalgia about working on the show.

There's a whole scene in the episode where Roger and Peggy are saying goodbye to their old offices and she says, 'It wasn't like that when you were in it.'

And we were having that moment, of the kind of rose-coloured glasses, like, 'Oh, it was so great back in the day,' when of course it's always hard work and stress and freaking out.

CP: What do you think of the reaction to the finale?

Chellas: It's so funny because of course we've been working towards it for a few seasons now, at some level, the actual finale. And of course, we were still figuring things out as we got closer.

But Matt always had the vision for ending the whole series with the Coke ad and Don Draper meditating on a cliff and sort of 'omm' and the smile — all that stuff he had for years, but we didn't know what people would make of it.

And I have to say, I thought there would be a lot more haters.

I was prepared for people to freak out, just because everyone freaks out about finales now. It seems like such a no-win situation but there was such a consensus of satisfaction, I felt like, with that finale.

— This interview has been edited and condensed.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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