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After a long absence, “Mad Men” finally will return for a fifth season March 25 — a date marked on the calendars of the show’s superfans as they wait with anticipation to find out what happens next in the messy, sophisticated saga of Don Draper and company.

In a guest appearance on Thursday’s “Late Show With David Letterman,” series star Jon Hamm — back on the promotional circuit for the AMC show — blamed billionaire-on-billionaire squabbles for the 17-month delay. (The season-four finale aired in October 2010.)

“These decisions get made … at a much higher pay grade than I’m allowed to partake in,” Mr. Hamm explained to Mr. Letterman. “I’ve described it thusly, and I’ve gotten in trouble, so I’ll do it again the same way: When billionaires fight, it takes a lot longer to, like, settle. So we had some very wealthy people determining how long we would be off the air.”

Series creator Matthew Weiner teased the new installment in a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

“The year doesn’t really mean anything,” Mr. Weiner said of the ‘60s-set drama. “It doesn’t. I’m not doing a history lesson. The thing that I’m excited about is I wanted to give people a big helping. I wanted a two-hour premiere. It’s a ‘Mad Men’ movie - I don’t think anyone’s going to think it’s two episodes spliced together. There is a story that starts in the middle of it [but otherwise] it’s one story. The beginning and the ending are related to each other.”

The premiere, written by Mr. Weiner and directed by Jennifer Getzinger, will kick off at 9 p.m. March 25. The following week’s episode, returning to its regular 10 p.m. time slot, marks Mr. Hamm’s directorial debut.

Janet Jackson declines spot on ‘X Factor’ panel

Janet Jackson, Pink, Katy Perry, Fergie, Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne - the reported candidates for the two open judges’ spots on Fox’s “The X Factor” keep rolling in. But one of those artists apparently isn’t interested: Miss Jackson has taken herself out of the running.

The singer told that she’s “very flattered that ‘X Factor’ let me know that I was being considered for next season, but it just wouldn’t be possible.”

Miss Jackson said previous commitments to her “Number Ones — Up Close and Personal” tour and Lionsgate (which produced her 2010 film, Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls”) keep her from accepting a TV gig at this time.

Although the artist’s reps told the site she never took any meetings to discuss joining “X Factor,” the Hollywood Reporter’s sources said she was in very early talks about joining the show in mid-February. She also tiptoed around the idea when she appeared on Anderson Cooper’s daytime show, “Anderson,” on Feb. 20.

During a press call last week, Simon Cowell said he would be taking meetings during the next few weeks with artists who have expressed interest in the positions formerly held by Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger. He also said the series will replace host Steve Jones with two hosts in season two - a male and a female.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.