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.
Amber Heard (Zombieland) is in talks for a lead role on the NBC drama pilot Playboy. The project, from 20th TV/Imagine TV, is set at the Playboy Club in Chicago in 1963. Heard would play a new hire at the club, originally an orphan from Fort Wayne, an inquisitive young woman with an untethered sexuality and a dark past. Alan Taylor, who directed the pilot for AMC’s Mad Men, is directing Playboy from a script by Chad Hodge.
NBC has made its first drama pilot order this development season and it has gone to Playboy, a period drama about Playboy bunnies in the Chicago club in the 1960s. The project, set against the background of the political and moral changes in the 1960s, was written by Chad Hodge. 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV, which first took a stab at the concept last season with a different writer, are producing. Hodge is executive producing Playboy with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and and the company’s new TV chief Francie Calfo. This is the first pilot order this month as the New Year marks the beginning of the traditional pilot pickup season. The green light for Playboy comes before NBC’s new top programmer Bob Greenblatt has officially joined the network, something expected to happen later this month when the Comcast-NBCU gets government approval.