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Scott D. Pierce: KSL boycott might give 'Playboy Club' a boost

Published August 5, 2011 8:46 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Beverly Hills, Calif. • The premiere of "The Playboy Club" is still six weeks away, but NBC isn't exactly worried that many of its affiliates will follow KSL-Channel 5's lead and refuse to air the show.

"I think every other affiliate will be airing the show," said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, who said the other 200-plus network stations are all "on board."

Some advocacy groups are flooding affiliates with emails protesting their decision to carry the series — a crime drama set in the early 1960s in which characters either work at, or belong to, the Playboy Club in Chicago. But, at this point, no other stations have announced pre-emptions.

KSL won't carry the show because it didn't want to "promote a brand that we just cannot support," said Mark Willes, president and CEO of Channel 5's parent company, Deseret Media Companies, in a statement announcing the decision in June. "We would be helping to build a brand that stands for pornography."

The LDS Church-owned DMC owns the broadcast license and is responsible for what the station telecasts.

"That is certainly their right, to air or not air the show," said "The Playboy Club" executive producer Chad Hodge, choosing his words carefully. "And we're just excited that another [station] in Salt Lake City has picked up the show."

The series will debut on KMYU-Channel 2.2 on Monday, Sept. 19, at 9 p.m.

Gre­enblatt said he "wasn't completely surprised" that KSL chose not to air "The Playboy Club." "That brand name is a little polarizing, even though the show isn't all that revealing," he said.

In terms of its content, no, "The Playboy Club" isn't particularly revealing. There are women in 1960s-era Playboy Bunny costumes, which are actually less revealing than what a lot of women in a lot of NBC shows wear.

"I would say that, in terms of content and anything racy, it's mild compared to a lot of stuff that's on television," said executive producer Ian Biederman. "And the intent of this show is to show characters at a certain time and a certain place trying to become something and being a family. It really has nothing to do, as I think anyone who has seen the pilot will tell you, with anything racy or trying to be exploitative."

He's absolutely right, and he's arguably wrong.

Yes, the show isn't particularly racy. It's less adult than a lot of shows on TV, including a lot of shows on NBC.

But all this stuff about how "The Playboy Club" is "empowering" — a word thrown around frequently by the show's stars and producers — is baloney.

Left to its own devices, "The Playboy Club" would probably die a quick death.

But it never hurts to have a little extra publicity on your side. Like the publicity that comes when a station refuses to air a show. That's the kind of advertising you can't buy.

Scott D. Pierce formerly wrote about TV for the Deseret News, which is owned by Deseret Media Companies, also the parent company of KSL. His column appears Mondays and Fridays in The Mix. Contact him at spierce@sltrib.com, follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce and read his blog at sltrib.com/blogs/tv.