Back in 2009, Gawker ran a story about Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner suddenly firing series staff writer Kater Gordon, a puzzling development given Gordon’s meteoric rise from Weiner’s personal assistant to Mad Men writers’ assistant to winning an Emmy alongside Weiner for the Mad Men season two episode “Meditations In An Emergency.” At the time, Gawker and commenters on Deadline, then run by the notorious Nikki Finke, concluded that either something inappropriate had gone down, or Weiner was simply jealous of his protege’s success. Well, today an interview Gordon gave to The Information (as reported in Indiewire) confirms that it was the former.
According to Gordon, she and Weiner were working late one night when Weiner said she “owed it to him” to let him see her naked. She brushed off Weiner’s comments at the time and kept working, thinking that confronting a powerful showrunner like Weiner could cost her her career. A year later, she was let go from the show anyway. Her firing sparked much speculation in industry press, eventually leading Gordon to abandon her career as a TV writer. “I had the Emmy, but instead of being able to use that as a launch pad for the rest of my career, it became an anchor because I felt I had to answer to speculative stories in the press,” she says. “I eventually walked away instead of fighting back.”
Gordon is currently forming a nonprofit called Modern Alliance to help victims of sexual harassment by providing them with “an arsenal” of responses to aid them in the moment, something Gordon says she did not have when she was working on Mad Men. “I knew immediately when he crossed the boundary that it was wrong,” she says “But I didn’t know then what my options were. Having a script or some sentences cued up as an arsenal— like a self-defense harassment arsenal—I could have used that in that moment, and it would have saved me years of regret that I didn’t handle that situation differently.”
In response to the interview, Weiner issued a statement through a spokesperson which read: “Mr. Weiner spent eight to ten hours a day writing dialogue aloud with Miss Gordon, who started on Mad Men as his writers assistant. He does not remember saying this comment nor does it reflect a comment he would say to any colleague.” Weiner’s new show The Romanoffs was recently caught up in sexual harassment allegations made against ousted Amazon executive Roy Price, but the show is still under development at the streaming service.