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‘The Playboy Club’ canceled by NBC after only three episodes

Amber Heard played Maureen abruptly canceled “Playboy Club.” It was first casualty fall televisiseason.

Amber Heard played Maureen on the abruptly canceled “Playboy Club.” It was the first casualty of the fall television season.

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Updated: November 15, 2011 12:53PM



‘RIDICULOUS.”

That’s the short and simple tweet “The Playboy Club” actress Naturi Naughton posted not long after her fledgling NBC series was axed Tuesday after just three episodes and successive weeks of increasingly abysmal ratings. It was the first casualty of the fall TV season.

Reruns of “Prime Suspect” will fill its Monday night slot until a newsmagazine hosted by NBC anchor Brian Williams takes it over Oct. 31.

Two more “Playboy Club” episodes have been shot, and NBC wouldn’t say when or whether they will air. Production on a sixth episode was continuing on the soundstages of Cinespace Chicago on the West Side.

The show’s creator, Chad Hodge, couldn’t be reached for comment.

“A full-time series is a full-time employer, it’s a big spender, so it’s significant,” Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal said of the cancellation.

Had production continued through the end of the year, Moskal estimated, another $16 million (or roughly $2 million per episode) likely would have been pumped into the local economy.

“It’s not like we’re losing the majority of what this year’s spend for local production will be,” Moskal said, “but it’s a hit.”

Last year’s spending for Chicago film and television production totaled $161 million.

Set in the early 1960s, when Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s Chicago-based empire was expanding rapidly and his original club thrived on Walton, “The Playboy Club” focused on the upscale establishment’s famed “Bunnies,” sexual intrigue, mobsters and murder.

Predictions of the somewhat controversial program’s quick demise had swirled since its weak debut in September. On Thursday, Deadline.com reported that “NBC won’t be pulling any new series this week, since NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt wants to give all freshmen more time to send a message to the creative community that he will give their shows on NBC every possible chance to succeed.”

But Greenblatt is formerly of the cable world, where budgets are lower and patience for upstarts greater. On network television, bigger bucks often are on the line and survival is more precarious.

“Wow. Tough day,” actress Laura Benanti [who played bunny mother Carol-Lynne on “Playboy”] tweeted Tuesday. “Best cast, best crew, we deserved more time.”

David Krumholz, who played Playboy Club general manager Billy Rosen, also tweeted his elliptical dismay: “Insulated minds make bad decisions.”



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