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October 27, 2016

Former CBS, MGM Honchos Eyeing Purchase of Playboy

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Former honchos at CBS and MGM are eyeing the purchase of Playboy Enterprises. According to reports, Hollywood executives Jeff Sagansky and Harry Sloan are in advanced talks to acquire the media giant through Double Eagle Acquisition, a vehicle they launched last year through an IPO that raised $500 million. The buy would take Playboy from private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management as part of a larger portfolio deal of assets worth between $2 billion and $3 billion. Reuters reported that it’s not clear whether Double Eagle would acquire all the assets of Playboy Enterprises, or which other Rizvi Traverse holdings would be included in the deal. The company holds investment stakes in Twitter, SpaceX, Snapchat and RealD, a 3D movie company. Sagansky, was a former president of CBS Entertainment and co-president of Sony Pictures Television, and Sloan, was former chairman and chief executive of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In 2011, Rizvi Traverse took then public company Playboy and founder Hugh Hefner private for $207 million. Separately, the much ballyhooed strategic move to remove nudity from Playboy magazine to make it more relevant to millennials and attract more “safe" branding deals may be coming to an end. Hefner’s son, Cooper Hefner, a critic of the change from the jump last March and ousted from the magazine’s hierarchy, has since returned as chief creative officer. Cooper said he’s still not a fan of no-nudity, which could signal a return to Playboy’s racier roots. “There has been no change of heart, and I continue to be well aware of what has made Playboy so remarkably special,” Cooper said. He told Media Ink in an email, “Some aspects of the brand won’t alter, as there have been a number of successful creative and business pivots over the last few years that are worthy of celebration. However, as we close in on our 64th year as an organization, I can assure you certain aspects of our formula will change. We are currently implementing a creative strategy for the brand moving forward. Let’s just say, 2017 will be a big year for our rabbit. ” The Playboy staff —many who were the architects of the non-nude revamp — has also experienced a recent shakeup. Editorial director Jason Burhmester is reportedly so upset with Cooper’s return he’s tendered his resignation. Cory Jones, the chief content officer who unveiled the SFW website and helped boost traffic 230 percent, according to the company, was forced out last summer. And chief digital officer Phillip Morelock was released along with 20 others across the company. But the question of the return of nudity in the magazine remains. A spokesperson for Rizvi Traverse interim chief executive Ben Kohn told the New York Post that there are currently no plans to change the nudity levels in the magazine. But the same spokesman acknowledged that a cutback to six issues from 10 is under review, hinting that the overall change may not have been as successful as recent media reports hyped.

 
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