It should come as no surprise that NBC canceled the universally panned “The Playboy Club,” after only three episodes. NBC cited ratings that descended disastrously from 5 million viewers to 3.2 million for Monday’s episode.
“I’m highly disappointed,” said Local 476’s Mark Hogan, whose members numbered from 125 to 200 working on the show, which employed another 50 from other unions. Through episode four, 70 local actors had been hired for the AFTRA series.
The local AFTRA office estimates the number of actors should be close 100 by the time it receives the figures for all six episodes.
“Fox Television spent millions of dollars on the sets,” says Hogan, “which was a beautiful showcase for our talented workers and it was mindboggling what they turned out.”
The Chicago Film Office’s Rich Moskal says that another $16 million, or approximately $2 million per episode, would have been spent if the series had continued through the end of the year. He concedes that losing the rest of the series is “a hit.”
Six “Playboy Club” episodes have been completed at Cinespace stages and when the last day of episode six is finished this week, “then it’s over,” Hogan adds.
The show starred Amber Heard and Eddie Cibrian in a 1960s-set story about the Chicago Playboy Club and the bunnies and men who loved them.
Ratings dropped to 1.2 in the coveted 18-49 demos
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Playboy Club’s” underwhelming ratings attracted 5 million viewers and a 1.6 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. The second episode tumbled 19%, 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.
Ratings and badly conceived scripts weren’t the only factors involved in the series’ demise. It faced an almost immediate backlash as the Parents Television Council called for a boycott and urged sponsors to pull out.
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.”
The PTC targeted the show from early on for objectifying and degrading women since NBC ordered it to series in May.
Showrunner defends show’s concept
Showrunner/co-writer Chad 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.