Mad Men Paid $250,000 For A Beatles Song

10 May 2012 | 9:15 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

It has been dubbed the "most talked-about licensing of a song in television history".

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Dubbed the "most talked-about licensing of a song in television history", Mad Men finished their eighth episode of its fifth season in America last weekend, with The Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows. It has been reported that the song, the final track on 1996's Revolver, cost the show's producer Lionsgate a whopping $250,000 to license.

To not spoil the plot-line for those looking to watch it at a later date, we'll just report - from other sources - that the track summed up the sometimes bleak themes of nothingness and death that ran through the episode.

Speaking to The New York Times, show creator Matthew Weiner admitted he had been desperate to get the song.

"It was always my feeling that the show lacked a certain authenticity because we never could have an actual master recording of the Beatles performing," he said. "Not just someone singing their song or a version of their song, but them, doing a song in the show. It always felt to me like a flaw. Because they are the band, probably, of the 20th century."

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The deal, an extremely rare incidence of a Beatles song being licensed, was lined up a month before filming of the episode started in spring (American fall) last year.

To get the deal across the line Weiner "had to do a couple things that I don't like doing, which is share my story line and share my pages.

“It was hard because I had to, writing-wise, commit to the story that I thought was worthy of this incredible opportunity. The thing about that song in particular was, the Beatles are, throughout their intense existence, constantly pushing the envelope, and I really wanted to show how far ahead of the culture they were. That song to me is revolutionary, as is that album.”

As the LA Times' Critic's Notebook column points out, it's not the first time that Tomorrow Never Knows has been licensed to television. Back in the '60s, the band allowed their image and tracks to be used by an American cartoon, The Beatles. The track appears in an episode of the same name, one of the later in the program's run and quite bizarre by today's standards.