Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
NBC decided to kick off its two-day TCA soirée this morning with a bang by rolling out the cast and producers of its forthcoming period drama The Playboy Club that Joel McHale described earlier as “Mad Men with boobs.” That satirical assessment of the hour set at the Playboy Club in Chicago in the 1960s was disputed by exec producer Ian Biederman, who described it instead as a drama that “intends to show characters in a certain time and a certain place trying to become something.” The cast and producers also spoke to the show’s dedication to female strength and empowerment, rather than exploitation.
But as NBC and the producers are all too aware, Playboy Club is already a lightning rod for controversy. The NBC station in Salt Lake City already has announced it won’t carry the show, and the Parents Television Council is lobbying other stations to follow suit. Yet exec producer Chad Hodge dismissed any worries today as minor, noting, “It’s certainly (the station’s) right to air or not air the show. And we’re excited that another network in Salt Lake City has picked up the show.” As for the show’s purportedly racy content — which has been rumored to have been quietly toned down — Biederman stressed, “Anything racy is mild compared to a lot of what’s on television.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It’s a happy ending to the pilot season for Jeff Hephner after all. The actor, who after grueling auditions landed the lead in NBC’s drama pilot Playboy but was replaced after the table read with Eddie Cibrian, has been tapped for a co-starring role opposite Kelsey Grammer on the Starz eight-episode drama series Boss. Coincidentally, like Playboy, the Lionsgate/Grammnet-produced Boss is set and filming in Chicago. Written by Farhad Safinia and directed by Gus Van Sant, Boss centers on Kane (Grammer), the mayor of Chicago, who is diagnosed with a degenerative mental condition that only he and his doctor know about. Hephner will play the state’s treasurer, an impeccably handsome and ambitious Chicago native who is clearly about to become a major player on the Chicago political scene. Hephner, repped by Paradigm and the Group Entertainment, is recurring on CW’s Hellcats and has also done arcs on NBC’s Mercy and Fox’s The O.C.
EXCLUSIVE: The lead in the NBC drama pilot Playboy is being recast.
Third Watch alum Eddie Cibrian has been tapped for the role, replacing Jeff Hephner, who landed the part last week after a marathon of auditions. The decision was made after the pilot’s table read. Sources close to the show say that Hephner, who had never played a major role on a series before, was great in the tests, and the producers love him as an actor, but he didn’t work out in the pilot, whose cast includes Laura Benanti, Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton and David Krumholtz. Cibrian, who was finalist for the Playboy lead, is expected start immediately as the pilot is slated to begin filming in Chicago on Tuesday.
Playboy, from 20th Century Fox TV, Imagine TV and writer/executive producer Chad Hodge, is set at the Playboy Club in Chicago in 1963. It centers on Nick Dalton (Cibrian), described as “the ultimate playboy.” He is an attorney in Chicago and a Keyholder at the glamorous, exclusive club. A fixer who knows how to make problems disappear, he has mysterious ties to the mob. The pilot, directed by Alan Taylor, also co-stars Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Leah Renee and Wes Ramsey.
Cibrian, repped by ICM and Steve Sauer, recently co-starred on CSI: Miami for a season and did an arc on NBC’s freshman drama Chase this season.
EXCLUSIVE: Actor Jeff Hephner just got his big break, landing the lead role in NBC’s drama pilot Playboy. The project, from 20th TV, Imagine TV and writer-executive producer Chad Hodge, is set at the Playboy Club in Chicago in 1963. Hephner went through rigorous auditioning process, beating a number of better known actors for the role, the last major part in the pilot to get cast. And he certainly has the right last name for it that sounds exactly like the moniker of the king of the Playboy empire, Hugh Hefner.
Playboy centers on Nick Dalton (Hephner), described as “the ultimate playboy.” He is an attorney in Chicago and a Keyholder at the glamorous, exclusive Playboy Club. A fixer who knows how to make problems disappear, he has mysterious ties to the mob. The pilot, directed by Alan Taylor, co-stars Laura Benanti, Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Leah Renee, David Krumholtz and Wes Ramsey. Hephner, repped by Paradigm and the Group Entertainment, is recurring on CW’s Hellcats and has also done arcs on NBC’s Mercy and Fox’s The O.C.