NBC said Monday it will replace "The Playboy Club" with its news program "Rock Center with Brian Williams" beginning Oct. 31.
After three low-rated episodes, NBC has axed the Chicago-set sudser about Bunnies in the first of Hugh Hefner's Playboy Clubs in the 1960s. Last night's episode averaged 3.4 million viewers. NBC will air repeats of the new drama "Prime Suspect" at 9 p.m. Mondays until "Rock Center" debuts, an NBC publicist told me. He did not say if the remaining episodes of "The Playboy Club" would be broadcast.
"The Playboy Club" becomes the first new series of the 2011-12 TV season to be pulled from the schedule.
The show, starring Laura Benanti, Amber Heard, Eddie Cibrian, Naturi Naughton and Sean Maher, didn't have much of a chance after being targeted for boycott by everyone from the Parents Television Council to feminist Gloria Steinem. Recently seven advertisers pull their commercials from the broadcast.
It's a shame for film production in Chicago, where the series is filmed at the new Cinespace Chicago Film Studios on the Southwest Side. Fox's "The Chicago Code" filmed in Chicago last year, but also was cancelled. The Starz series "Boss," which also filmed at Cinespace and throughout the city this summer, already has been renewed for a second season despite the fact its first season does not debut until Oct. 21. Showtime's "Shameless," which is partially filmed here, returns in January.
Despite what critics, viewers and I have said about the quality of "The Playboy Club," I was entertained by aspects of it, especially the musical performances of Tony winner Benanti and guest stars.
I also applaud creator Chad Hodge's look into the early history of the fight for gay rights in the U.S. Rarely, if ever, has a series tackled the subject of the Mattachine Society, an underground organization that worked for gay rights mostly in the 1950s. (Yes, Chicago-area native Hodge took some liberties with history, but I was OK with that.)Copyright © 2015, RedEye