With 'Mad Men' ending, what's next for AMC?

Israel is one of the places the network will look for its next big hit.

Mad Men season 7B castMad Men season 7B castThe cast of 'Mad Men'; the final seven episodes start on April 5. (Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3 / AMC)

When we think of the fact that AMC's modern classic drama "Mad Men" is entering its homestretch, airing its final seven episodes starting Sunday, all we can hear is that sad trombone sound effect from "The Price is Right."

For those that have been following Don Draper, Peggy Olson and the rest of the booze-addled 1960s ad execs at Sterling Cooper & Partners, watching the last episodes will likely fill them with melancholy. Not just because their favorite characters are going away forever, however; they may also wonder where they can turn for their cable drama fix.

AMC, despite the massive success of "The Walking Dead," has been trying to find a replacement for their flagship show, as well as the dearly-departed "Breaking Bad." Despite years of development, they haven't quite found their next big, buzzy drama yet.

"'Mad Men' is simply one of the greatest shows in television history, and we’re all very grateful that it found its way to AMC at a time when we weren't established at all as an original programming entity," Joel Stillerman, the network's vice president of original programming, told From The Grapevine. "It simply put us on the map, along with 'Breaking Bad,' and has allowed us to grow from there."

There's a decent chance that Stillerman can find AMC's next hit from Israel. Stillerman spoke at the Innovative TV (INTV) conference, which Israeli production company Keshet hosted in Jerusalem in March. Keshet and other Israeli companies have been feeding American TV with shows like "Homeland" for a number of years, but what Stillerman found was that there were so much good work being done there.

"It was great to meet so many of the talented producers and storytellers working in Israel," he said. "Obviously, we have known for some time that there is a lot of great TV coming out of Israel, but the true scope of it was pleasantly surprising."

Jon HammJon Hamm as Don Draper in "Mad Men." (Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)

The storytelling the network pays attention to is character-based, which is why he thought "Homeland" would have been a good fit at the network. The INTV conference was "a great opportunity to comprehensively discuss some of the original drama in Israel from Keshet and other producers, and I am confident we’ll be having some follow-up conversations about some individual shows soon." Stillerman said that AMC is looking for more co-producing opportunities and great foreign-language scripts that can be adapted for English-speaking audiences, and making sure they build the relationships with those producers early in the process.

As for "Mad Men," don't tell Stillerman that AMC needs to replace the show. "We don’t even think that way," he said. "It simply cannot be replaced. All we can do is stay focused on finding great television. 'Mad Men' forged a unique and historic path. The next shows will have to find a way to do that on their own terms."

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