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NBC Kills Off ‘The Playboy Club’

Brian Williams newsmagazine to replace Bunny drama

Photo: Courtesy NBC

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The ears weren’t the only things that flopped at The Playboy Club, as three weeks of poor deliveries have doomed NBC’s much-ballyhooed fall drama.

The first new series of the 2011-12 season to get the hook, The Playboy Club will be replaced by the 10 p.m. newsmagazine Rock Center With Brian Williams on Monday, Oct. 31.

The end came for The Playboy Club the morning after the series posted its worst numbers to date. Per Nielsen preliminary live-plus-same-day data, Episode 3 of the period drama delivered an anemic 3.39 million viewers and a 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo.

Starring Amber Heard, the sudsy Club never had a fighter’s chance, premiering on Sept. 19 to just 5.03 million total viewers and a 1.6 rating. A week later, deliveries plummeted to 3.97 million viewers and a 1.3 rating.

NBC isn’t expected to burn off the two episodes of The Playboy Club that are in the can, although the remaining installments may be made available online.

Also in danger of cancelation are NBC’s new comedy Free Agents and the Thursday night cop drama Prime Suspect.

Looking ahead to Halloween, Rock Center is the first new prime-time broadcast launched by NBC News in nearly 20 years. Led by NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams, the newsmagazine will feature reports from a number of NBC News correspondents/personalities, including Harry Smith, Kate Snow, Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer, and Ann Curry.

The launch date was announced today by NBC News president Steve Capus and NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt.

Rock Center had originally been slated for a midseason premiere, but The Playboy Club’s quick disappearing act demanded that Williams and Co. get rolling a few months ahead of schedule.

While NBC gets its Monday night lineup in order, the network had some good news on the comedy front, announcing it has committed to full-season orders for Up All Night and Whitney.

“We made comedy an important goal for us this season and . . . we’re thrilled with the creative direction of both shows,” Greenblatt said, adding that Up All Night and Whitney have the potential to continue to build audiences over the course of the season.

Through three episodes, Up All Night is averaging 7.42 million viewers and a 2.7 in the demo in its Wednesday night anchor slot. On Thursday night at 9:30 p.m., Whitney is averaging 6.11 million viewers and a 2.9 rating.

Despite being very female-friendly—the first two installments of Whitney were loaded with jokes about weddings, unreliable boyfriends, and Cosmo sex quizzes—the sitcom is one of just two new shows that draws more males than females in the 18-49 demo.

Up All Night was created by Emily Spivey (NBC’s Parks and Recreation) and executive produced by Lorne Michaels. The show stars Christina Applegate and Will Arnett.

Whitney is executive-produced by Whitney Cummings and writer Andy Ackerman (Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine).