Ex-Playboy CEO Flirts with TV News

By Gail Shister 

Morning shows are a nice place to visit, but ex-Playboy CEO Christie Hefner wouldn’t want to live there.

Hefner, who popped up Friday on “Good Morning America” as a panelist on George Stephanopoulos’ “Morning Mix,” says friends have encouraged her over the years to pursue a morning anchor gig.

“They said I’d be pretty good at it, and there aren’t enough really thoughtful interview shows on TV,” explains Hefner, 57, a life-long Chicagoan. “Morning shows are the logical forum for me. They talk about all kinds of issues.”

Not to worry, Meredith, Robin, Maggie, Mika and Kiran.

Though Hefner does guest shots every month or so when she’s in New York on business, she’s not chasing any full-time employment these days. She’s much too busy.

Since leaving Playboy Enterprises in January ’09 after 20 years’ running the empire created by her dad, Hugh Hefner, Hefner fille has been juggling three projects.

She’s on the board of John Podesta’s progressive think tank, Center for American Progress. She’s working with Canyon Ranch Wellness Resorts to expand their brand. Ditto for Columbia Journalism Review, which offered Hefner the publisher’s post. She declined.

“I don’t really want one big job,” Hefner says. “I want to have a portfolio of things.”

Playboy Enterprises was Hefner’s primary portfolio for 34 years. Contrary to conventional wisdom, she remains bullish on the future of its print iteration.

Reduced to 10 issues per year, Playboy magazine “wasn’t an earnings driver or growth driver for the company, but it’s still a brand driver,” Hefner says, “It’s what defines us at our core. It’s the purest reflection of our brand.”

Hefner denies buzz that Playboy’s editorial headquarters will relocate from Chicago to L.A. in a budget move. “I’d be surprised. The truth is, Chicago is the most cost-effective of any city Playboy does business in — New York, Chicago, L.A.”

The “great” entertainment magazines will still be around 50 years from now, Hefner boldly predicts.

“It’s not the buggywhip business.”