The Playboy Club
Also known as Bunny TalesPlayboy
Genre Historical fiction[1]Crime drama
Created by Chad Hodge
Starring Eddie CibrianLaura BenantiAmber HeardNaturi NaughtonLeah ReneeJenna DewanWes RamseyDavid Krumholtz
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 3 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Chad HodgeBrian Grazer Francie Calfo
Production company(s) Playboy Enterprises20th Century Fox TelevisionImagine Entertainment
Original channel NBC
Original run September 19, 2011 (2011-09-19) – October 3, 2011 (2011-10-03)


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The Playboy Club

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Promotional image from NBC

The Playboy Club is an American television series broadcast on NBC. It premiered on September 19, 2011. Set in 1963, the series centers around the employees (known as Bunnies) of the first Playboy Club in Chicago. NBC announced on May 12, 2011 that it had picked up the pilot as a series.The Playboy Club was canceled on October 4, 2011 after 3 episodes.


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The cast includes:

  • Eddie Cibrian as Nick Dalton, a lawyer and Playboy Club Keyholder.
  • Laura Benanti as Bunny Mother Carol-Lynne
  • Amber Heard as Bunny Maureen, a recently-hired Bunny.
  • Jenna Dewan as Bunny Janie, a very provocative Bunny who is dating Max
  • Naturi Naughton as Bunny Brenda, a woman seeking to be the first African American Playboy Playmate.
  • David Krumholtz as Billy Rosen, club manager
  • Leah Renee as Bunny Alice, a Bunny who is secretly lesbian and in a sham marriage with a gay man.
  • Sean Maher as Sean Beaseley, Alice's gay husband. A political campaigner, Sean is a member of the Mattachine Society, as is Alice.
  • Wes Ramsey as Max, a bartender at The Playboy Club

Troy Garity was cast in the recurring role of John Bianchi, the son of Bruno Bianchi, a mob figure who is killed by Maureen in self-defense in the pilot episode.

Jeff Hephner was originally cast in Cibrian's role but was replaced before filming began.

Some members of the cast, including Heard, Cibrian, Dewan and Renee, signed contracts that include nudity clauses, although it is considered likely that any nude scenes would appear only in international and DVD releases and not on American broadcast television.


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Development on The Playboy Club began in 2009 under executive producer Chad Hodge. Originally, the series was called Bunny Tales before being changed to Playboy and finally the current title. A co-production by 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Entertainment, the series also includes Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo as executive producers. NBC ordered the pilot in January 2011, its first drama pilot order for the 2011–2012 television season.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has the authority to review scripts for the series but according to Hodge has been very hands-off. Hefner recorded a narration for the pilot but that device will not be used in future episodes. A younger version of Hefner will appear in the series but will only be seen from the back.

The series pilot was filmed on location in Chicago beginning March 15, 2011. Shooting took place at the former site of Meigs Field on Northerly Island under the direction of Alan Taylor. According to the Illinois Film Office, producers planned to shoot the series in Chicago as well. Chad Hodge wrote the pilot script.

Heard posted an image of herself in her Bunny costume to her Facebook profile page. The image, taken by Heard's sister with her iPhone, was widely disseminated on the Internet and appeared in TV Guide. This led 20th Century Fox Television to ban all unauthorized photography on the set.

Pre-air criticism

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The Parents Television Council condemned The Playboy Club, calling it a "blatant attempt to obliterate any remaining standards of broadcast decency". PTC accused Comcast of going back on the agreement it made with federal regulators while negotiating its purchase of NBCUniversal not to broadcast "pornographic material" over the public airwaves. The PTC also sent letters to every NBC affiliate, asking them not to air The Playboy Club. The PTC subsequently called on NBC to cancel The Playboy Club immediately.

KSL-TV, the NBC affiliate in the Salt Lake City market (which encompasses all of the state of Utah and some portions of surrounding states), announced in June 2011 it had declined to carry the series. The station stated the show was "completely inconsistent" with the station's mission and branding. The station is a sponsor of the "Out in the Light Campaign," which educates people on the social effects of pornography.KMYU, the market's MyNetworkTV affiliate, will air it in the original timeslot in the market.

Anti-pornography activist group Morality in Media created an online petition requesting people pledge not to watch the series, ask NBC to drop it and boycott its advertisers. The Florida Family Association also plans to alert its supporters to advertisers.

Women's rights advocate Gloria Steinem who went undercover as a Bunny in the New York City Playboy Club in 1963, joined the call for a boycott. Calling the club "the tackiest place on Earth", Steinem said the series "normalizes a passive dominant idea of gender. So it normalizes prostitution and male dominance". It is unclear whether Steinem had seen the pilot before commenting.

The San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women issued in August 2011 a non-binding resolution condemning the program, calling on NBC and its affiliates to replace the program with one that "depicts women's substantive achievements".

Stars Amber Heard and Leah Renee defended the series at a 2011 Television Critics Association panel. Heard said, "This is about choice. Ultimately it's a different generation with different opportunities and different expectations for women." "The way we look at things, if it involves sexuality, somehow a woman must be compromised," Renee said. "And I think it's just as chauvinistic to deny a woman her sexuality," Heard said. "It's about the time. It comes down to choices. If they are making the choice, they are not being exploited."

Linda Holmes of NPR, who had seen the pilot, challenged these assertions of female empowerment. Finding the episode itself "silly and full of bad dialogue...cheesy more than offensive", Holmes questioned how a series about women whose conduct and appearance were micromanaged could simultaneously claim that those regimented women were uniformly empowered by the experience. "You can shake a Bunny tail and be empowered, no argument. It depends on what's going on in the rest of your life. But shaking a Bunny tail isn't enough to demonstrate empowerment if you have to go to Eddie Cibrian or Hugh Hefner for help every time you have a problem, and having the right not to be slapped on the behind when you deliver a cocktail isn't exactly a societal advance on the order of universal suffrage." The series, she concludes, might have been better served had those involved positioned it as a camp soap opera and not tried to make a feminist statement.

International broadcasts

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The series has been picked up in Canada by Citytv, airing on the same night as the NBC telecast, but the scheduling will vary as the Citytv outlets in Calgary and Edmonton will air it at 8 pm, while Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg will follow NBC's 10 pm pattern, simsubbing with NBC in many areas.

Series overview

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SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedDVD release date
Series premiereSeries finaleRegion 1Region 2Region 4
113September 19, 2011 (2011-09-19)October 3, 2011 (2011-10-03)N/AN/AN/A


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No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProduction
U.S. viewers
1"Pilot"Alan TaylorChad Hodge and Becky ModeSeptember 19, 2011 (2011-09-19)1015.02
New Bunny Maureen's first week sees her getting caught up in the murder of mob boss Bruno Bianchi. Nick Dalton, one of Chicago's top attorneys and keyholder, comes to her aid. His girlfriend Carol-Lynne makes an ambitious move and becomes the first Bunny Mother. Meanwhile, the other bunnies Janie, Alice and Brenda each deal with their own personal issues and secrets while the club's general manager Billy Rosen tries his best to keep the club running without interference from the mob. 
2"The Scarlet Bunny"
"The Scarlett Bunny"
Scott WinantStory by: Chad Hodge & Karyn Usher
Teleplay by: Chad Hodge
September 26, 2011 (2011-09-26)1023.97
3"A Matter of Simple Duplicity"Lesli Linka GlatterMark FishOctober 3, 2011 (2011-10-03)1033.47
4"The Dream House and How to Avoid It"Unaired104N/A
5"Trouble in Makeoutsville"Unaired105N/A


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In its first night out, the debut placed last among the three primetime shows that aired during the 10:00 pm/9:00 pm hour.

No.TitleAir date18–49 ratingViewers
1"Pilot"September 19, 2011 (2011-09-19)1.6/45.02
2"The Scarlet Bunny"September 26, 2011 (2011-09-26)1.3/43.97
3"A Matter of Simple Duplicity"October 3, 2011 (2011-10-03)1.2/33.47
4"The Dream House and How to Avoid It"UnairedTBATBA
5"Trouble in Makeoutsville"UnairedTBATBA


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Some of the songs recorded specifically for the show have been released on iTunes, including

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