The Playboy Club is Playboy approved. Hugh Hefner has blessed this NBC drama based on the early days of his magazine’s physical expansion into our popular culture. The show will cover the opening of nightclubs that capitalized on the popular men’s magazine and its symbol, the sexy Playboy Bunnies.
Amber Heard leads the ensemble cast of The Playboy Club as the new girl, Maureen. The series starts just after Maureen has been hired by the Playboy Club, the exclusive, key club, nightclub started by Hugh Hefner in Chicago but run by Billy Rosen (David Krumholtz).
To say that Maureen’s first week is memorable would be an understatement. She’s making more money than she knows what to do with, she’s getting groped by skeevy rich guys and she’s caught the attention of a famous mobster. Eventually, she will be involved in a murder and a cover-up and meet Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian), a dashing lawyer.
Maureen also makes new friends with her fellow Bunnies including Brenda (Naturi Naughton) who dreams of being the first African American Playboy centerfold, Carol Lynne (Laura Benanti) the veteran of the staff, Alice (Leah Renee) a closeted lesbian and Janie (Jenna Dewan).
Guest Stars in this first season of The Playboy Club include, in a bit of network synergy, winner of The Voice, Javier Colon. According to TVLine Javier will play the legendary Ray Charles and that the casting of the reality contest winner is part of a clever trend on the series.
In later episodes of The Playboy Club other modern pop stars will be cast in the roles of legends including Colbie Caillet as Lesley Gore and Raphael Saadiq as Sam Cooke. The music that these pop stars cover will be made available after each episode on Itunes and NBC.com.
Naturally, The Playboy Club has inspired much hand wringing and differences of opinion. In an editorial for The Daily Beast writer-director Nora Ephron trashed The Playboy Club, Playboy Magazine and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, dismissing each as irrelevant and creepy.
In a review of the series for the New York Daily News, critic David Hinckley call the series ‘Stylish but superficial.’ USA Today critic Robert Bianco was much kinder to The Playboy Club praising the show’s ‘energy and narrative drive.’
I will be checking out the first episode of The Playboy Club but I have never been all that impressed with former Baywatcher Eddie Cibrian. Amber Heard is quite beautiful but her best performance was as the love interest of Seth Rogan in Pineapple Express, a minor and not all that memorable role.
The biggest draw of the series may be the music. Raphael Saadiq as Sam Cook and Javier Colon as Ray Charles are savvy choices, unless of course they can’t act as well as they sing.
The Playboy Club debuts Monday, September 19th on NBC.