'Mad Men' producer has local roots

As he spent his summers on Pelican Lake growing up, Scott Hornbacher probably wasn't thinking about 1960s New York ad agencies. He probably wasn't thinking about Emmy nominations either. Now those are two things at the forefront of Moorhead-nativ...

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Scott Hornbacher is an executive producer of the hit TV series "Mad Men." He spent his summers in the lakes area. Submitted Photo

As he spent his summers on Pelican Lake growing up, Scott Hornbacher probably wasn't thinking about 1960s New York ad agencies.

He probably wasn't thinking about Emmy nominations either.

Now those are two things at the forefront of Moorhead-native Hornbacher's mind as "Mad Men" - an AMC television series for which Hornbacher is an executive producer - has received a record 17 Emmy nominations this year. The nominations were announced earlier this month.

Set in 1960s New York, "Mad Men" is a drama revolving around advertising executive Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm.

After five seasons of the show, Hornbacher is thrilled and grateful that "Mad Men" is still being recognized.


"I'm always surprised about being nominated, and it's remarkable to have such large scale support this far in the series," he said.

Before he was in Los Angeles as a producer of "Mad Men," Hornbacher was born and raised in Moorhead, visiting the family lake cabin on Pelican Lake for the summers.

"I spent all of my summers pretty much growing up in that area," Hornbacher said. "It was sort of a magical time."

Hornbacher's father, Bruce, is now a Detroit Lakes resident.

After spending summers on the lake, Hornbacher did his first year of college at Moorhead State University, where he took liberal arts classes and some film history classes.

After his first year of school, Hornbacher realized he didn't quite know what he wanted to do, but he knew he wanted to try living in a city with more culture and potentially more job opportunities.

"Without really having much of a plan, I moved to Minneapolis," Hornbacher said. "I got a job there at Uptown Theatre, so obviously there was an inclination toward movies."

He ended up taking classes at Inver Hills Community College in St. Paul through a now-nonexistent program called "Film in the Cities." Hornbacher said he finished the film program, but didn't fully complete his degree. He stopped going to school because he was working internships and professional freelance jobs.


One of these freelance jobs was on the 1987 film "Rachel River," which was filmed in Minneapolis, but had a New York producer. In 1987 - about a year after working on that film - Hornbacher decided to move to New York and called the "Rachel River" producer.

"All of my other work really stemmed from there," he said.

Hornbacher said he worked his way up from production assistant positions to location manager jobs, and ended up with his first producer's gig on a low-budget movie.

Eventually, Hornbacher got a job as production manager for the second season of the HBO series "The Sopranos." He worked on "The Sopranos" almost until the series ended, and worked his way up to co-producer.

Shortly after completing his work on "The Sopranos," Hornbacher was hired to produce the pilot of "Mad Men," he said.

When "Mad Men" creator and writer Matthew Weiner asked Hornbacher to move to Los Angeles as an executive producer for the show, Hornbacher accepted. Five seasons later, the show has been nominated for this year's record number of 17 Emmys.

"It's hard to find a better way to determine that things are going well," Hornbacher said. "It's very thrilling. I feel very fortunate."

Awards aren't the reason the show's cast and crew work hard, but they are an appreciated form of recognition.


"The work is it's own reward, and I truly feel that way," Hornbacher said. But it's nice to have others recognize it too, he said. "I am grateful."

In addition to being an executive producer on the show, Hornbacher has also directed four episodes.

"To have the opportunity to direct is a dream come true," he said. He described the role as challenging, exciting and rewarding, and said it was "a privilege" to have that creative involvement in addition to his producing duties.

Hornbacher and the rest of the "Mad Men" crew are about to start preparing for the show's new season, he said.

He and Weiner also just finished working in North Carolina on the upcoming film "You Are Here," starring Owen Wilson and Zach Galifinakis, Hornbacher said. His role was producer, and Weiner worked as the film's writer and director.

Hornbacher said people can look for "You Are Here" in Fall 2013.

The 2012 Emmy awards will broadcast live Sept. 23. The complete list of "Mad Men" nominations according to the AMC website is:

  • Outstanding Drama Series.
  • Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series for Jon Hamm as Don Draper.
  • Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series for Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson.
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series for Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway Harris.
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series for Jared Harris as Lane Pryce.
  • Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series for Julia Ormond as Marie Calvet.
  • Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series for Ben Feldman as Michael Ginsberg.
  • Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for "The Other Woman" directed by Phil Abraham.
  • Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for three episodes: "The Other Woman," "Commissions and Fees" and "Far Away Places."
  • Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-Camera Series, "At The Codfish Ball."
  • Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series.
  • Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series, "The Phantom."
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series, "Far Away Places."
  • Outstanding Hairstyling For A Single-Camera Series, "The Phantom."
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic), "Christmas Waltz."
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