AMC has officially greenlit production of Mad Men Season 5, despite the fact that a deal with series creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner has not been reached yet. Here's the statement AMC released below.
"AMC has officially authorized production of season 5 of Mad Men, triggering our option with Lionsgate. While we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key non-cast negotiations, Mad Men will be back for a fifth season in early 2012."
The network made a similar move two years ago, greenlighting a new season before their negotiations with Matthew Weiner were finalized. Although this new deal would make Matthew Weiner one of the richest showrunners in television, with a deal worth $30 million over two seasons, he still has issues with a few points in the deal. The network wants to cut two minutes from each episode, to make room for more commercials, and AMC also wants to integrate product placement into the show. Matthew Weiner is disputing both these points, along with the network's desire to eliminate two regular cast members.
Although production has been "authorized" by AMC, there is still no timetable on when Season 5 of Mad Men will actually go in front of cameras.