EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is matching an iconic film subject with an iconic producer. The studio has taken over Playboy, a project about Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner, with Jerry Weintraub taking over the film as producer. The film originated at Universal with Imagine Entertainment, where the studio tried for several years to tell the story of how Hefner evolved from a puritanical upbringing to become the godfather of the sexual revolution. During that time, Hefner used the magazine to champion civil rights and free speech, putting James Brown on his show Playboy After Dark when no one put black performers on national television. While Universal had filmmakers like Brett Ratner attached at one time or another and actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman mentioned as possibles to play Hef, the project languished.
At Warner Bros, this marks a meeting of a couple of old style iconic guys, Hefner and Weintraub. The Ocean’s Eleven producer, who cut his teeth promoting Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan, put his own colorful life story into the memoir When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man. HBO turned it into the HBO documentary His Way.
Wentraub would not disclose what part of Hefner’s life he will cover, and he denied that Harry Potter scribe Steve Kloves is being talked to as a potential screenwriter, as I’ve heard is the conversation going on right now between the studio and the scribe. Stay tuned.