As the network TV barons peruse a menu of pilots for new fall shows, some just jump out of the pile. Some Tinseltown pundits have already pegged it as "likely" that NBC will pick up a show for fall called "The Playboy Club." Just like it sounds, the show is based on Hugh Hefner's original Playboy Club in Chicago in swinging 1963. If that doesn't sound porn-friendly enough, the pilot's producers at 20th Century Fox TV required all actors on the show to sign a nudity clause -- virtually unheard of in broadcast television.
"Nudity" in this contract is defined as well, nudity. But that's not what grabs attention. This is: "Nudity as defined above and/or simulated sex acts may be required in connection with player's services in the pilot and/or series," the clause reads, according to Variety. Actors may now be required to be naked on NBC.
Despite this new low, Variety was told there was no nudity in the pilot, and producers didn't plan any such thing for NBC. But apparently, the broadcast version would provide temptation for the titillated to buy the DVD for the "extras." (And if there will be no nudity, why a nudity clause?)
Variety guessed that the "Playboy" show could travel in the opposite direction from edgy HBO fare like "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City." A "clean" version would air on NBC, and then a sleazier version might appear on pay cable -- or perhaps on an edgy basic-cable channel like FX.
The Parents Television Council condemned NBC for its blatant attempt to obliterate broadcast decency standards with this show. When Comcast bought NBC Universal, the PTC asked the Federal Communications Commission to press Comcast to stipulate it would not use the public airwaves to "distribute pornographic material." As PTC president Tim Winter now states, "The ink isn't even dry yet on the company merger and we're already saying 'We told you so.'"
Could the nudity clause be but a moralist-teasing ploy to use scandal to boost the program's chances for a fall pickup? Sleaze doesn't always sell.
This pornographer-glamorizing show wouldn't be a first for Fox Television. Nearly everyone's already forgotten "Skin," which Jerry Bruckheimer made for Fox in 2003. The premise was a teen Romeo-and-Juliet romance between the son of a district attorney and the daughter of a porn magnate.