July 18, 2003 08:31am
Hef and Bunnies to Star in Animated TV Series
by: Cyntia Barrera Diaz
On Friday, a unit of Playboy Enterprises Inc.said it plans to develop a new animated television series starring Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, and his famed centerfold girls in another move to introduce the Playboy brand to younger generations.
Hefner, an icon of the American sexual revolution, will be the mastermind behind a sexy, sophisticated squad of Playmates that will fight the "enemies of the democracy" in "Hef's Superbunnies," the cartoon series to be developed by Stan Lee.
Lee, the godfather of comics, created all-time best-seller comics such as Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and the X-Men. All of these characters were recently taken to the big screen and became box-office hits.
"We do have a deal with Stan ... we've been working on at it for some time," Richard S. Rosenzweig, chairman of Alta Loma Entertainment, told Reuters. Alta Loma is the entertainment and production arm of Playboy Enterprises.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Stan and Hef have had a mutual admiration society for many many years," he added. Hefner, a cartoonist himself, made super hero-themed comics during his high school years.
While the venture is still at an early stage, Alta Loma and Lee's Pow! Entertainment, a company that creates live action and animation motion pictures and television franchises, will work on the 30-minute series which will be developed for mainstream television.
Unlike the nude centerfold girls that made of Playboy, a highly-successful magazine for men since its launch in 1953, the Superbunnies won't bare it all in the new show.
"This is mainstream. Whether is one of the major networks or one of the cable networks ... It remains to be seen," Rosenzweig said.
Last month adult cartoon "Stripperella," with the likeness of Bay Watch star Pamela Anderson (news) in the leading role, made its debut on Spike Tv, the just rebranded cable network previously known as Tnn. Playboy has previously worked with networks such as Fox, a unit of News Corp. Ltd. And home to "The Simpsons (news - Y! Tv)" and "That 70's Show (news - Y! Tv)."
Playboy's two-hour reality show special "The Girl Next Door: The Search for a Playboy Centerfold," lured many young viewers when it aired on Fox earlier this year.
"Hef's Superbunnies" is the latest project of the energetic Hefner, who at 77 years dates several ladies simultaneously, throws glitzy parties at his Los Angeles Playboy Mansion and mingles with all things cute in Hollywood.
Playboy Enterprises has been busily tuning its business model by revamping its flagship Playboy magazine, offering more exclusive content online and improving the distribution of its television channels as it faces increased competition.