‘Playboy’ pilot result of past good experience with Fox

Amber Heard plays a jealous “Playboy” bunny

Positive experiences on The Chicago Code and Prison Break, the 30% Film Tax Credit, and the story’s Chicago setting clinched the Playboy series pilot for a shoot here, studio and state officials said.

“The show is set in Chicago but we did consider other options regarding where to produce the pilot,” said Tracey Raab, executive director for media relations at 20th Century Fox Television.

“This is a process we go through for all our projects.  The Chicago decision was made early in prep and was based on our experience in Chicago on Prison Break, The Chicago Code and the benefits of the tax incentive program.”

Actor Jeff Hephner is the male lead

Said Illinois Film Office interim assistant managing director Todd Lizak, “Fox had such a great experience in Illinois with the crew and tax credit with Chicago Code. We love our repeat customers.”

“Illinois has a very talented crew and great locations, which has been evident during Fox’s filming of Chicago Code,” echoed Marcelyn Love, communications manager for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which includes the Film Office.  “We are very pleased that they have chosen to film another pilot here.”

Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television are producing the Playboy series for NBC/Universal.  

Raab said the pilot was scheduled to shoot for 14 days, March 15-31.

Alan Taylor, who directed the Mad Men pilot, is directing a script by Chad Hodge (Runaway), who’s executive producing with Imagine’s Brian Grazer.  It’s set in 1963 in and around the original Playboy Club at 116 E. Walton St.

Jeff Hephner (Hellcats) plays an outfit-connected attorney and Don Draper type courting the headlining Bunny (Laura Benanti, Take the Lead).  Amber Heard (Drive Angry 3D) plays a new Bunny vying for the lawyer’s attentions.

Wannabe centerfold Naturi NaughtonNaturi Naughton (Fame) plays another Bunny who aspires to become Playboy magazine’s first black centerfold.

The cast also features Jenna Dewan (Step Up), David Krumholtz (Numb3rs), Wes Ramsey (CSI: Miami) and Leah Renee Cudmore (Franklin).

Tenner Paskal & Rudnicke handled local casting for the show, which include several of the supporting and background Bunnies.

The pilot’s production office is at Chicago Studio City, where they’re also shooting interiors. Raab said local crew included UPM, ADs, art director, and location manager as well as art, props, stunts, and transportation departments and office staff.

She said local vendors were expected to include Sutton Place, Fletcher Camera, Celebration Limo, Ace Rent-a-Car, Business Solutions, Chicago Studio Rentals, A to B, Chicago Portable Power, Power House Generators, and Aun Point Security.

Raab said it was too early to say when the series would run should it be greenlit.

The Fox pilot is one of three to shoot in Chicago, out of the 79 commissioned by networks this season for production.