PASADENA, CALIF. — Jon Hamm is on a roll.
The show he stars in, AMC’s “Mad Men,” returns for a much-anticipated third season on Aug. 16. Earlier this month, he was nominated for two Emmys, one for leading actor in a drama series, one of 16 nods for “Mad Men,” the other for guest-starring on NBC’s “30 Rock.”
And last season, he got to host NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” a show he claims to have watched since he was 7 years old.
“I was actually sitting in my dressing room at ‘Saturday Night Live,’” when the call asking him to appear on “30 Rock” came, Hamm recalled this week at an AMC cocktail party.
“I don’t know what I did first. I think I said yes and then jumped around the room and then threw the phone against the wall and opened the door and made sure I was breathing, but I’ve loved that show since its inception, I think Tina (Fey, the show’s producer and star) is a remarkable talent,” he said.
“Everybody on that show is note-perfect, and I love watching that show, and it never fails to make me laugh.”
Hamm doesn’t see much difference between playing comedy and drama.
“It comes down to the writing,” he said. “I think I’ve proven that pretty much anyone could make that stuff sing. So I did all right.”
As for the new season of “Mad Men,” “I don’t know what I can tell you,” Hamm said. “I think what happens in Season 3 ... is change. And that’s not just talking about the characters and the stories and the arcs of all these people, it’s about the culture as well.”
Asked if Don were going to be “more faithful” this season, Hamm smiled. “Well, people change and people stay the same,” he said.
In what was literally a departure for the show, Don traveled to California toward the end of Season 2.
“I thought it was an interesting and kind of important trip for Don,” Hamm said. “You know, this was a man who had gone out to California and seen what maybe could have been the end of the world in these NASA presentations and ... he’s essentially charged with going to find business (from) people that are in charge of blowing up the planet. And I think that kind of resonated with the guy, who isn’t too sure about his past or his future.”
Though “Mad Men” continues to resonate in pop culture — the most recent shout-out came from HBO’s “Entourage” — “we are telling a very specific story, and the source of pride that I have with it is telling the story of these people,” Hamm said.
Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t get a kick out of the attention.
Of “The Simpsons’ ” spoof of the show’s opening credits, he said, “I loved it. I absolutely loved it.” A friend of his is an animator on the show, “and he snuck me a (pencil) drawing of Homer as Don falling. I have that in my house, and it’s framed.”
Just as last week’s observance of the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing served as a painful reminder of how far we haven’t ventured in the decades since, ABC’s “Defying Gravity,” an astronaut thriller that lifts off Sunday (9 p.m. EDT), demonstrates lack of ambition isn’t limited to space.
The network, whose best original programming this summer has been the leftover episodes of “Pushing Daisies,” “Eli Stone” and “Dirty Sexy Money” that it’s burned off on Saturdays, picked up the internationally produced “Gravity” from Canada, which, thanks to NBC’s “The Listener” and CBS’ “Flashpoint,” is beginning to look like the go-to destination for generic drama.
The show, whose two-hour premiere will be followed by hour-long episodes at 10 p.m. EDT Sundays beginning next week, suffers from comparisons to “Virtuality,” whose pilot Fox aired but didn’t order to series. But so few people saw that more intriguing effort, which also dealt with astronauts on a lengthy mission about which they were less than fully informed, that it might as well be considered lost in space.
Ron Livingston (“Band of Brothers,” “Sex and the City”) stars as Maddux Donner, a veteran astronaut — he’s already been to Mars — who’s initially passed over for a six-year mission into deep space, only to have forces beyond Mission Control’s control pull him aboard.
That this is permitted to happen after he’s publicly punched out his boss back on Earth is merely one of the whoppers offered up by creator James Parriott, whose “Grey’s Anatomy” experience is evident in that plot point as well as one that puts Donner into a spaceship with two of the women he’s slept with.
Something, we’re told, wants him there, along with ship commander Ted Shaw (Malik Yoba), and it seems likely that something was the writing staff, which seems far more interested in defying logic and common sense than in dealing with anything approaching gravity.
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