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Prometheus sparks ‘Playboy’ revival

Original emcee Hef to host new series

A correction was made to this article on Aug. 11, 2005.

Kevin Burns’ Prometheus Entertainment, which has just reupped with Fox Television Studios for three years, is developing a revival of the 1969 latenight variety series “Playboy After Dark.”

Prometheus is developing and producing the new “Playboy After Dark” along with Andy Lassner, who also has a deal at FTVS, as well as with Playboy production unit Alta Loma Entertainment. Burns and Lassner will exec produce, while Playboy visionary and the show’s original emcee Hugh Hefner has agreed to host.

Skein, which would contemporize the laid-back cocktail partylike atmosphere of the original variety show, is being shopped to cable networks.

Project is being developed as a weekly hourlong series or as a series of backdoor specs. Initial production will take place at the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills.

” ‘Playboy After Dark’ is one of the jewels in Playboy’s crown and was considered an important cornerstone in Hugh Hefner’s legacy,” Burns told Daily Variety. “It was groundbreaking, in terms of being interracial, intergenerational and in terms of its format.” He added that it’s a “tremendous honor” for Hefner to trust the pair with the revival.

Numerous activities

Project is among several in the works at Prometheus, which specializes in pop culture-oriented nonfiction and reality programming. Company already produces “Backstory” for American Movie Classics, as well as History Channel’s “History vs. Hollywood” and many of A&E’s “Biography” segs. Additional projects in the works include:

  • A 13-hour documentary miniseries (currently in the development stage) about the history of the automobile for Fox’s Speed Channel.

  • A handful of two-hour specials for AMC on the history of action films, the history of sex in the movies, a study of “soul cinema” and a celebration of 1970s rock movies.

  • Two 90-minute specs for Animal Planet counting down the greatest animal moments in television and movies.

  • Nonfiction specs, which have not yet been sold, on the history of special effects, romance in the movies and an event documentary miniseries on the history of television.

Exec shuffle

As part of Prometheus’ renewal with Fox TV Studios, development exec Scott Hartford has been named VP of development and production for the unit. He joined Burns’ team in 1995.

Prometheus was founded in 1999 when Burns left FTVS as senior VP of the division Foxstar Prods., where he was in charge of developing and producing all FTVS nonfiction programming.

Prometheus shingle allowed Burns to continue producing nonfiction programming in partnership with Foxstar and FTVS, but also mandate that he develop a wide variety of programs, including variety, primetime drama and television movies.

“Our slate and our client list have become much more diversified in the first three years of this setup,” Burns said, “As Prometheus became known for tackling subjects like Hollywood, TV history, personalities, pop history and social history, Foxstar has continued to broaden its reach with traditional documentary shows in terms of new subjects and outlets.

“So the plan worked,” he added.

In a separate deal, Burns and partner Jon Jashni inked a seven-figure production pact this spring with 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Television Studios that’s designed to breathe new life into a quartet of classic Irwin Allen properties via the duo’s Synthesis banner (Daily Variety, March 5). Duo are exec producing a new take on “Time Tunnel” that’s a potential midseason skein for Fox, as well as an update of “Lost in Space” for NBC.

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