NBC Orders PLAYBOY to Pilot; HBO Develops MUSCLE With Derek Cianfrance

     January 5, 2011


NBC issued its first pilot order for this development season to Playboy.  According to Variety, the script comes from Chad Hodge (Tru Calling) and centers on a group of women working in the New York Playboy club in the 1960s.  Naturally, the time and place of the setting will be used to explore the nation’s coming sexual revolution.

There were once 22 Playboy clubs around the world.  The hourlong drama comes at a time when Playboy Enterprises hopes to revive the brand, with plans to launch around 20 locations in the next few years.

Hit the jump for details on the bodybuilding comedy HBO is developing with Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine).

Cianfrance spoke enigmatically to Vulture in December about a new series he was working on with HBO:

“I can’t tell you what [the show’s] about, but I can tell you that we’re gonna try to give new meaning to the word ‘character development.'”

This is the director of Blue Valentine, an often-uncomfortable deconstruction of a marital relationship.  We expected this HBO series would be a similarly profound drama.  Nope. muscle-confessions-of-an-unlikely-bodybuilder-slice

Muscle is a comedy based on Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder, a memoir by Oxford graduate Sam Fussell about his four years on the bodybuilding circuit. The Wrap reports Fussell will co-write the script with Cianfrance.  Cianfrance will direct the pilot.

This sounds like a fine conceit for a series, and Cianfrance is a filmmaker I’m eager to see more from.  I imagine Muscle will make a nice companion piece to Hung if it’s ordered to series.

Here’s the synopsis for Fussell’s memoir:

At age 26, scrawny, Oxford-educated Samuel Fussell entered a YMCA gym in New York to escape the terrors of big city life.Four years and 80 lbs. of firm, bulging muscle later, he was competing for bodybuilding titles in the “Iron Mecca” of Southern California-so weak from intense training and starvation he could barely walk. MUSCLE is the harrowing, often hilarious chronicle of Fussell’s divine obsession, his search for identity in a bizarre, eccentric world of “health fascists,” “gym bunnies” and “muscleheads”-and his devout, single-minded acceptance of illness, pain, nausea, and steroid-induced rage in his quest for the holy grail of physical perfection. [Amazon]