08/08/2011 11:57 am ET Updated Oct 08, 2011

'Mad Men' Season Five Production Begins

Better late than never. Much better.

Following this spring's contract drama between "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner and network AMC -- which saw massive disagreements on salary, budget, cast cuts and other issues that nearly lead the series chief to walk away -- filming on the Emmy-winning '60s drama has finally begun. If that seems late, well ... it is: The series is set for a quarter one 2012 debut, not its usual late summer/early fall premiere.

Even the cause for the delay was among the disagreements between the network and Weiner. AMC claimed it was due to the contract breakdown, while Weiner's people insisted that the season premiere was always slotted for January, thanks to a glut of hit shows the cable network had scheduled.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the network chief admitted that the show's delay had nothing to do with the negotiations.

Regardless, production is indeed under way on the season's first episode, which carries with it an exciting detail: it's being directed by star Jon Hamm. This isn't the first time a series regular has directed -- John Slattery helmed an episode in the fourth season -- but it's a major step for the Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee, and you can see him take action in an exclusive photo over at Entertainment Weekly.

Hamm spoke about his evolving career in an interview in June with TV Line; in addition to the drama acting and now directing, he's forged himself a substantial career in comedy, with "SNL" hosting duties, his supporting role in "Bridesmaids" and now a new role in "Todd Margaret on IFC."

"Well, I hope I get a chance to do both sides. I think that Paul's [Rudd] career has been really fun for me to watch because he's been able to do stuff on Broadway and he's been able to do big movies and big comedies and produce stuff, and really kind of be the architect of his own future, and it's been really successful for him," Hamm said. "So, yeah, one of my acting heroes, which is such a lame term, but one of the people whose careers I look at as an inspiration is a guy like Jeff Bridges, who has been around since he was 18 years old, has done work in drama and crazy 'Big Lebowski' comedy and now is finally getting recognized as a genius."