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‘Mad Men’ creator discusses show influences, exhibit at Astoria museum

Photo by Thanassi Karageorgiou/Museum of the Moving Image

As “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner walked around the Museum of the Moving Image’s exhibit on his show for the first time, it was “a little bit like having someone come up and pants you,” he joked.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I agreed to put all this stuff out here, like my notes and my thoughts,’ and then I had some feeling…like it all happened to someone else,” he said.

Museum members, “Mad Men” fans and movie buffs packed the Sumner M. Redstone Theater on March 20 as the showrunner of the popular TV series, which comes to a close in May, visited the museum for “Inside Mad Men: An Evening with Matthew Weiner.”

“Huge fan” of the show Mark Kramer, 26, of Astoria, snagged a front-row seat.

“I heard [Weiner] speak a lot about the show on podcasts and interviews,” he said. “It’ll be great to hear him in person.”

In a conversation on stage with host Anthony Mason of CBS News, Weiner talked about his creative process, the film series “Required Viewing: Mad Men’s Movie Influences” and the exhibit, which Weiner called “the most expensive scrapbook ever made.”

Also in the audience was Andrea Basora, 50, a former resident of western Queens and a self-described “longtime movie buff,” who came to the event hoping to get an insight into the “Required Viewing” film series.

“I’m really interested in the whole series and what he has to say about how the films influenced ‘Mad Men,’” Basora said. Some of the film choices were self-explanatory to her, but “some choices, like ‘Blue Velvet,’ are interesting,” she said, and she wanted to know why Weiner chose them.

Mason guided Weiner through topics such as the inspiration behind the show, the casting of relatively unknown actors, the challenges of filming the pilot and how the creative team brought the time period to life.

Weiner also talked about the strange experience of seeing the “Mad Men” sets, costumes, props and more in a museum setting.

“I feel the sort of ghostliness going to a museum and seeing these things that are usually very old. These were recently inhabited. These chairs are still warm,” he said. “And the sets — the actors were just there.”

The exhibit, which remains open through June 14, features two large-scale sets (Draper’s office and the Draper family kitchen from their Ossining home), a recreation of the writers’ room, 33 costumes, a section contrasting the lifestyles and personalities of Megan and Betty, hundreds of props and a music listening station.

“I can’t imagine that 20 years ago when you took the first notes that would lead to this show you ever thought it would end up in a museum,” Mason said.

“No,” Weiner laughed. “I have had some lofty ambitions in my life that are completely unrelated to reality, and they’ve all been exceeded by this experience.”

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