NBC Cancels 'The Playboy Club'

"The Playboy Club" (NBC)
Matt Dinerstein/NBC

From left: Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton and Leah Renee.

NBC has canceled freshman drama The Playboy Club.

Brian Williams' newsmagazine show, Rock Center, will take its place beginning Oct. 31. Until then, repeats of Maria Bello's Prime Suspect will air on Mondays at 10 p.m. The move to air Prime Suspect in Playboy Club's time slot is a clear sign of Bob Greenblatt's desire to make the series, which is closer to his cable sensibilities, work.

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Playboy Club's cancellation comes after the drama premiered Sept. 20 to underwhelming ratings, attracting 5 million viewers and a 1.6 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. The second episode of the series from showrunner Chad Hodge and 20th Century Fox Television, tumbled 19 percent, luring only 3.8 million viewers and a 1.3 in the demo. Its most recent episode dropped even more, attracting 3.2 million viewers and a 1.2.

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The series faced a backlash almost from the start, as the Parents Television Council called for a boycott and urged sponsors to pull out of the show that starred Amber Heard and Eddie Cibrian in a 1960s-set story about the Chicago Playboy Club and the bunnies and men who loved them.

Seven advertisers exited the series in the series’ second week after PTC president deemed the show a “commercial disaster” and called for the network to cancel the “degrading and sexualizing program immediately.”

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The PTC targeted the show from early on for objectifying and degrading women since NBC ordered it to series in May.

Hodge downplayed the controversy after Gloria Steinem called for a boycott and NBC's Salt Lake City affiliate refused to air it.

"I think there’s a perception of the show that’s false," he said. "There are different brands of feminism and I don’t think it should be boxed into any one version."

"I think there was a perception that we were trying to do something politically ambitious or make a statement or make this a show about empowering women, which sounds super boring to me. That sounds like a documentary, which this certainly is not. This is more like Chicago, Moulin Rouge and All That Jazz, Desperate Housewives. This is a fun, sexy soap," he added.

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Rock Center With Brian Williams will feature Harry Smith, Kate Snow and other correspondents and anchors at NBC News, including Meredith Vieira, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Richard Engel, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry.

"Brian Williams already anchors America’s most watched, honored and respected nightly news broadcast. Rock Center now gives him, and our all-star cast of journalists an opportunity to take viewers on a weekly journey of discovery," said Steve Capus, president of NBC News, and Greenblatt in a joint statement.

The series will be broadcast from studio 3B in Rockefeller Center and the weekly, hourlong newsmagazine will revolve around the week's events, interviews and coverage.

Lacey Rose contributed to this report.


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