‘Playboy’ plants nudity prospect

Actor deals on 20th TV pilot include pay TV-style clause

Actors on the NBC drama pilot “The Playboy Club” could conceivably bare more than their souls for the camera.

Contracts for talent signed to the show contain a nudity clause that is typical of pay TV programming but virtually unheard of in the broadcast biz.

Variety obtained a copy of the clause. It stipulates: “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 language would give studio 20th Century Fox TV, which is co-producing with Imagine Television, leeway to shoot graphic scenes thatmay not get past NBC’s standards and practices department but could be used to sell R-rated versions of the show on DVD internationally or for cable syndication.

Insiders say no nudity was shot for the pilot, nor are there any specific plans to do so should the series be picked up. The inclusion of the clause wasn’t generated by producers, who never pitched “Playboy” as something with envelope-pushing sex scenes, but may have come from business affairs execs looking to maximize potential backend — ahem — opportunities.

Twentieth isn’t expected to shoot two versions of the show, but the studio could conceivably do one that would be edited in different ways depending upon which window the series is airing in.

What could conceivably occur is the reverse of how HBO series like “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City” were cleaned up for syndication. Language, nudity and violence were scrubbed in re-edited versions for stations and basic-cable networks with more stringent content standards.

The clause can’t force actors to shoot nude scenes. SAG guidelines require that actors be given a copy of the specific scene in the script and the opportunity to consent or decline to participate.

Of course, the clause could also give NBC the freedom to push the envelope in primetime. Kicking up a little “NYPD Blue”-style controversy over a show that’s risque couldn’t hurt to get attention on a cluttered fall schedule.

The cast for the series, which depicts the goings-on at a Playboy club in Chicago during the 1960s, includes Eddie Cibrian, Laura Benanti and Amber Heard. The pilot is wrapping up production in Chicago.

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