Penthouse Founder Bob Guccione’s Life Being Turned Into TV Series (EXCLUSIVE)

Bob Guccione TV Series
Jeremy Young/REX/Shutterstock

Penthouse founder Bob Guccione’s rise to the top of the media landscape and fall into financial ruin will be the subject of a new television series, Variety has learned.

Jerrick Media and Maven Pictures are teaming up on the project and are currently interviewing writers. The filmmakers say they are interested in providing a deeper understanding of Guccione, who they maintain was much more than just a pornographer.

“Bob Guccione was more of an intellectual,” said Rick Schwartz, co-founder of Jerrick. “He was a complicated guy.”

Schwartz says that Guccione’s Upper East Side mansion wasn’t a Big Apple equivalent of the Playboy mansion. Instead of hedonistic parties, Guccione would host salons with the likes of astronomer and author Carl Sagan or attorney Alan Dershowitz. In addition to producing Penthouse, Guccione invested in cold fusion, backed a science and science-fiction magazine entitled Omni, and released “Caligula,” a notorious epic that blended erotica, history, and a host of RADA trained actors such as Helen Mirren and Peter O’Toole cavorting around ancient Rome.

The Penthouse publisher also photographed the models and began his career as an artist and illustrator.

Guccione came onto Jerrick Media’s radar after co-founder Jeremy Frommer bought a group of storage lockers out of auction in New Jersey.

“There was this Japanese version of ‘Caligula,’ as well as all these old issues of Penthouse,” said Schwartz. “It turned out the storage locker belonged to Bob Guccione.

The partners spent the next three years buying up Guccione’s personal effects, including his personal manuscripts and slides.

Schwartz, whose credits include “The Departed” and “Black Swan,” and Frommer, who has worked on “Till Human Voices Wake Us,” will executive produce the project with Maven Pictures founders Trudie Styler (“Snatch”) and Celine Rattray (“Still Alice”).

The series will be told through the eyes of the women in Guccione’s life, charting his years as a struggling artist and cartoonist in London through the creation of Penthouse to his final years when his empire crumbled around him and he had to file for bankruptcy.

“It’s a meaty story,” said Schwartz, who notes that despite making a splash publishing pornography, Guccione championed women in his professional life, giving the likes of Vogue’s Anna Wintour their initial jobs.

Maven Pictures has previously produced “The Kids are All Right,” “American Honey,” and “Bernie.” Its upcoming credits include “Novitiate” with Melissa Leo and Margaret Qualley and “Kings” with Halle Berry and Daniel Craig.

Jerrick is a digital media and technology company focused on the development and marketing of branded digital content and e-commerce properties.

Given the amount of skin and sex in Guccione’s life, it’s a safe bet that the series won’t be on broadcast television.

“The plan is to do it on cable, Amazon, Netflix or somewhere where we can do it uncensored,” said Schwartz.

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  1. Bella says:

    I’ve known this family for 40 years. There is so much more about Guccione and Kathy Keeton then anyone can imagine including the kids Bobby, Tony, Nina, Niki and Tonina. I should write a book.

    • Bella says:

      A family that was so divided and in constant battle with each other. No wonder why the empire was destroyed.

  2. rodittis says:

    Who will they get to play that rug on his head?

  3. spatter says:

    I worked with Bob in the early 90’s. And with his kids. He was a real character. His house was INCREDIBLE. The swimming pool inside took two years to mosiac. And his impressionist art collection was the biggest in private hands I believe. He had Judy Garlands gold piano and he had 6 Rodhesian Ridgebacks and they had their own cook. Great days…..

    • Trixie says:

      I purchased an oil painting in Maui two years ago that was represented as coming from the home of the founder of Omni magazine. I have tried to find information on this and to verify if this were true or not. It is a large painting of two cherubim. There is a boy with brown hair and eyes and a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. They are draped with a blue chiffon scarf and a dragonfly in in the painting I can find no signature. It is very large. Does this sound familiar?

  4. heyitsron says:

    This should be a good one to watch. Always interesting when one makes it big and then hits bottom. Hits bottom hard. Larry and Hugh were the two successes that Bob never achieved, at least in the long term to still be around to brag about it. And this film will be an epic to learn from another’s worldly mistakes and what to do to prevent this from happening all over again. Especially to ourselves. But there’s more than just a wee bit bias in Brent’s rendering of “that despite making a splash publishing pornography, Guccione championed women in his professional life.” About that “despite.” Brent’s “despite.” Women who succeed at anything and do it well see this as empowerment and control over their environment and others. The epitome of success as opposed to failure. This is no place for ole Brent to go religion on us and make us think what is not so. No we don’t wish to keep them down on the farm, barefoot, and pregnant.

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