Amazon is adding an original docuseries for its Prime Video service — and it won’t arrive in a plain brown wrapper. The company has greenlighted the 13-episode docuseries American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story, which will draw from unprecedented access to more than 17,000 hours of footage and 2,600-plus scrapbooks from Hef’s personal archives.
Chronicling the life of an American icon and the history of the brand he created, the series will premiere next year in the U.S., UK, Germany, Austria and Japan.
Produced by Stephen David Entertainment and Alta Loma Entertainment, American Playboy begins in postwar America and takes viewers through the launch of Playboy magazine in 1953 and the next six decades of Hefner’s life and career. As he built his empire, he became both a social justice advocate and a target of the conservative movement, battling with the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover while becoming an outspoken defender of civil rights. Hefner has been deeply involved in the development and production of American Playboy, which will tell the 90-year-old’s story in his own words.
“It has been a long road in finding the right partners to tell the full story of Playboy as it has unfolded over these past 63 years, and I believe we have found them in the collaborative team of Stephen David Entertainment and Amazon,” Hefner said in a statement. “I’m pleased that this docuseries will shed light on what has been an incredible journey and the voice Playboy has had in the discussion of our ever-changing culture. Just as importantly, my hope is that it will inspire others to pursue their dreams.”
Among the topics American Playboy will cover is Hefner’s support of social justice and First Amendment rights — in particular, the fight to legalize same-sex marriage and the pro-choice movement. Through his Playboy Foundation, Hefner sponsored the lower-court cases that eventually led to Roe v. Wade and filed a friend of the court brief in that landmark Supreme Court case.
Said Conrad Riggs, Head of Unscripted at Amazon Studios: “Although Hugh Hefner is an iconic figure known worldwide, most people may not be aware of the impact he has had on some of this country’s most important social revolutions. We are excited to bring Prime members the untold story of Mr. Hefner’s remarkable life and his contributions to modern American history.”