After AMC's success with its uncompromising period piece Mad Men, NBC has been emboldened to purchase a Playboy Club key. The network has ordered a pilot for the Playboy, set in the first Playboy Clubs in Chicago during the 1960s.
Aside from screenwriter Chad Hodge (Tru Calling, Runaway) no cast or crew has been announced. The show synopsis says that it will use the Playboy Club as a starting point to explore the changing nature of sexuality in the 60s - certainly fertile ground for a drama.
Hugh Hefner opened the first of his nightclubs in 1960 in downtown Chicago. At that point Playboy Magazine had already become an integral part of American pop culture, and the club was successful enough to expand to cities around the country quickly. The clubs were nightlife hotspots (as opposed to, well, other kinds of clubs) and in their 58 year history have played host to a wide range of acts - from Mel Torme to Bill Cosby. Playboy Magazine itself has evolved from its salacious beginnings in 1953 to an American icon, and a taste-maker in its own right.
It's almost certain that the success of Mad Men has inspired NBC to take a gamble on the new pilot. The AMC series has been semi-confirmed for a fifth season, and also takes place in the 1960s. While Mad Men takes place in New York instead of Chicago, you can expect to see plenty of similarity between the two shows. In fact, Don Draper himself visits the Manhattan club in season 4 - the header image for this article is a still from that episode.
While Playboy itself hasn't made any announcement regarding the series, it's likely that the media empire will try to leverage the new show to push its brand (assuming the show makes it to the airwaves). Playboy hasn't fared well in the digital age, losing over 90% of its value since 2000. Playboy is no stranger to varied methods of promotion - in addition to millions of dollars in licensed merchandise sales, they have product placement in movies from Diamonds are Forever in 1971 to Miss March in 2009.
We'll be keeping an eye on Playboy - strictly for our articles, of course.