Mad Men episode leaked

Jessica Pare and Jon Hamm in season six of <i>Mad Men</i>

Jessica Pare and Jon Hamm in season six of Mad Men

THE latest episode of smash television hit Mad Men seems to have been leaked to subscribers to the show on Apple’s iTunes service before its scheduled US release.

Subscribers to the show on iTunes were contacted Sunday morning with a message saying that a new episode was available for download. Such emails are typically received once a week, on Monday evening, after an episode’s official release.

The email referred to an episode of behind-the-scenes out-takes from episode 5, titled ‘‘The Flood’’, which was released last week.

However, the latest episode, titled ‘‘For Immediate Release’’ was able to be downloaded from the service approximately 30 hours before its scheduled US release time. The episode was not available on the show’s main page, but could be accessed by updating the available downloads page on a user’s account.

Fairfax Media has so far been unable to contact Apple or AMC, the network that airs the show in the US. Lionsgate, the primary production company on the show, has also not responded to inquiries.

A Foxtel spokesman was unaware the episode was available when contacted by Fairfax Media. The Foxtel channel Showcase airs the program almost immediately after it airs in the US.

It is not the first time a Mad Men episode has been leaked on iTunes. In 2009, the third episode in the series was released nearly two weeks before it aired.

The show, one of the world’s most popular and a winner of numerous Emmy awards, is notoriously strict about leaks. Creator Matthew Weiner runs a continuous anti-spoiler campaign targeting television reviews and reviewers.

The campaign has attracted its own attention and earned Weiner a reputation among the entertainment press, who increasingly view his obsession with secrecy as a kind of tyranny.

An article in the influential Hollywood Reporter last month examined the top five spoilers Weiner insisted the press keep quiet in the current season, and concluded that none of them really mattered to the show’s development.

‘‘I understand that we don’t live in a perfect, respectable world, but the vast majority of critics I know realize that more than 80 percent of what we watch is a gigantic pile of dung,’’ wrote reviewer Tim Goodman. ‘‘Why in the world would we want to spoil the remaining joys of actually watching quality television?’’

mmoncrief@theage.com.au

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