The Internal Revenue Service filmed a “Mad Men”-themed continuing professional education video last year featuring an actor patterned after the Don Draper character in the popular AMC cable TV series.
The “IRS Training Video” was part of a series called CPE FY 2012 and was uploaded to YouTube by the actor, Michael R. Davis, as part of his ActingReelMrDavis channel on YouTube. Davis narrates the film noir-like black and white video as jazz music plays in the background, dressed up like the Draper character, who is played by Jon Hamm on TV. Davis has also performed as Danny in the stage musical “Grease” and as the dentist in “Little Shop of Horrors,” according to The New York Times.
In the IRS video, the Draper character talks about the “classics” of CPE training, perhaps in reference to the American Movie Classics cable TV channel that airs “Mad Men.” At times, he pauses to introduce the director of IRS Field Assistance, who apparently has been edited out of the video.
“Imagine the brilliant colors of a painting, the haunting melody of music, or the hypnotic images of motion pictures,” he says at the beginning of the video, sitting on a sofa with an urban skyline shimmering in the background behind him. “The classics inspire our thoughts and challenge our senses. To effectively learn today, we must appreciate and understand the foundation of our past successes. That is why we are going back to the basics, to the cornerstone of our CPE training. We are taking what we have learned and building a framework for the future. Today I will be your instruction guide to our CPE 2012 training. Join me as we explore the classics and journey through our learning material. Welcome to CPE 2012.” Later he is shown in several other swanky apartment settings discussing the importance of customer service, seemingly with IRS field assistance employees as the intended audience.
The video has not yet caused much of an uproar like the “Star Trek” and “Gilligan’s Island” parody videos or the “Cupid Shuffle” music dance video that were shown to embarrassed IRS officials and ex-officials in a congressional hearing last week about excessive spending at IRS conferences (see IRS’s Mr. Spock Impersonator Apologizes for Inappropriate Parody and IRS Music Dance Video Released by Congress).One of them, the commissioner in charge of the IRS's Small Business/Self-Employed division, Faris Fink, admitted to playing the Mr. Spock character in the "Star Trek" spoof. Davis's acting in the "Mad Men" video is noticeably more professional than the IRS employees who lent their talents to the other videos.
The IRS's recently appointed acting commissioner, Danny Werfel, has pledged not to spend IRS funds on producing such videos in the future.