Wisdom Of 'Mad Men' For Sale In 'Sterling's Gold' Roger Sterling may be the show's most charismatic and lovable characters. His memoir, once a book that existed only in the show's fictional universe, is now real enough to find in your Christmas stocking.

Wisdom Of 'Mad Men' For Sale In 'Sterling's Gold'

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GUY RAZ, host:

Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. JOHN SLATTERY (Actor): (as Roger Sterling) Charlie Chaplin was very lonely.

RAZ: That's the fictional advertising executive Roger Sterling in the hit TV show "Mad Men." He's played by the actor John Slattery. And in the show's most recent season, Roger Sterling is working on a book.

(Soundbite of TV Show, "Mad Men")

Mr. SLATTERY: (as Roger Sterling) Why am I talking about silent movies?

Unidentified Woman (Actor): Part of the chapter on your childhood?

Mr. SLATTERY: That part of my book is getting bigger and bigger. Why is that?

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: The book is a tell-all account of life on Madison Avenue, full of drinking and womanizing and cigarette-filled boardrooms. And this week, we found out that the book is real. It's real enough to pick up at your local bookstore. It's called "Sterling's Gold: Wit and Wisdom of an Ad Man."

Mr. SLATTERY: (Reading) Gentle reader, after devoting most of my life to the nefarious trade known as advertising, I thought it was time to share some of the pearls that I've been fortunate enough to accumulate. And so here it is. A few things overheard, a few things to live by and, hell, a few things I've apparently said and had repeated to me the morning after a party when I called to make amends. As I said, advertising's been half my life and I'm probably off by 50 percent. But damn it if it hasn't felt like 15 minutes.

RAZ: That's actor John Slattery reading the introduction to "Sterling's Gold." It's a collection of quotes and quips and other witticisms from the character's many, many unforgettable lines. Now, of course, they're mostly the work of "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner, but they're all spoken by John Slattery on the show.

And this past week, I spoke to John Slattery and I asked him to share a few of his favorite nuggets of "Sterling's Gold."

Mr. SLATTERY: Here's one. This is when he was drunk in a phone booth. And I didn't even see this until I read it a few times.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. SLATTERY: (as Roger Sterling) This should be good.

Mr. SLATTERY: They're self-so-righteous.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. SLATTERY: (as Roger Sterling) And they're self-so-righteous.

Mr. SLATTERY: And I thought it was so self-righteous and I realized that's how drunk he is. They're self-so-righteous.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. SLATTERY: (as Roger Sterling) And they're self-so-righteous. I never pissed my pants. This guy Rutledge killed a man with a motorboat.

Mr. SLATTERY: Killed a man with a motorboat.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. SLATTERY: (as Roger Sterling) You know what gets you over something like that? Drinking.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SLATTERY: I was surprised at how many there were. Actually, I had forgotten. I mean, it's been four seasons and, I don't know, 150 pages of these things. And all of them, really without the aid of context, are great lines.

RAZ: "I'm being punished for making my job look easy." I like that one.

Mr. SLATTERY: Yeah. You know what my father used to say? Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons and eventually they hit you in the face. That's a good one.

RAZ: On drinking, they say once you start drinking alone, you're an alcoholic. I'm really trying to avoid that.

Mr. SLATTERY: That's great. What a prince. That was an early one. He's looking at a room service tray. He says, oysters Rockefeller, beef Wellington, Napoleons, we leave this lunch alone, it'll take over Europe. They're great. I mean, I really feel lucky to have been able to say them.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: Let me ask you about Roger Sterling, because he, of course, is - he is a child of a wealthy father. He inherits the family business. He's basically a sexist, alcoholic, sort of a racist. I guess he's a man of his era. What is it about Roger Sterling that should appeal to any of us?

Mr. SLATTERY: I think Roger is unafraid to say what most people are thinking. And I think also, his behavior is something that, you know, would get most people thrown in jail at this point. But I also think what's appealing is that just when you think this guy is as rotten as they come, his humanity comes out.

He really doesn't just want to sleep with women, he enjoys the company of women. He enjoys their perspective. And I think he has a certain loyalty, and he has conviction. It doesn't always come out in the most politic way, but he does have a set of his own ethics.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: I remember, at one point, I was watching with my wife and she said one of the things about the show that she appreciates is how lucky she feels not to have had to - been a woman in an office, you know, at that time, because it's real. I mean, that's what it was like.

Mr. SLATTERY: It is real. He asked me - Draper does - early on - I think maybe the first episode. He says, what do women want?

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. JON HAMM (Actor): (as Don Draper) What do women want?

Mr. SLATTERY: (as Roger Sterling): Hmm. Who cares?

Mr. SLATTERY: And then I said, you know what they want? Everything. Everything, especially if the other girls have it. Trust me. Psychiatry...

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. SLATTERY: (AS Roger Sterling) ...psychiatry is just this year's candy pink stove.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SLATTERY: It must have been a brutal time. I've spoken with women who worked in offices at that time and they said it was every bit as brutal as portrayed.

RAZ: Can you give us any hint of what we should expect in season five?

Mr. SLATTERY: I wish I knew. I have no idea. I spoke with Matthew Weiner yesterday, and I know he hasn't started writing. So I think there's a bit of the chaos theory involved in the way he writes too. I think he gets backed up to a certain point and filled with whatever emotion fuels the fire and then he gets going.

RAZ: That's actor John Slattery. He plays Roger Sterling on the hit AMC TV show "Mad Men." He spoke to us from our bureau in New York.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SLATTERY: One of my favorites, there's one here that's talking about my wife.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Ms. CHRISTINA HENDRICKS (Actor): (as Joan Harris) Oh, I bet you do.

Mr. SLATTERY: I think I'm trying to pick up Joan.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Ms. HENDRICKS: (AS Joan Harris) Why don't I call you later?

RAZ: The office manager, of course.

Mr. SLATTERY: Right.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. SLATTERY: (as Roger Sterling) Joanie, are we actually going to get into a fight over a movie?

Mr. SLATTERY: He says, Mona had a dream once...

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Mr. SLATTERY: (as Roger Sterling) You know, Mona had a dream once where I hit the dog with the car. She was mad at me all day and I never hit the dog. We don't even have a dog.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: And you can hear John Slattery read more of "Sterling's Gold" at our website, npr.org.

(Soundbite of music)

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