U.S. rights, and DVD, Video-on-Demand, Pay Per View and Digital Rights in Canada to director/producer Brigitte Berman’s feature documentary “Hugh Hefner: A Playboy, Activist and Rebel” have been picked up by Phase 4 Films, Berry Meyerowitz, president and CEO of the company said from Los Angeles. The longer festival version of the film, which played at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, portrays the flamboyant, outspoken founder of the Playboy Empire and his many fierce battles with the U.S. government, the religious right, and feminist groups. Phase 4’s Larry Greenberg negotiated the deal with Cinetic Media’s Debra Fisher, and the company will launch the film theatrically in late Spring 2010.
The film highlights how in fighting his battles, Hefner was arrested for obscenity, branded a pornographer by Reagan’s Meese Commission, endured a boycott of his magazine, was under FBI surveillance and was set up on a fabricated drug charge. He has won every legal battle he has ever fought, and his legendary lifestyle has continued unabated throughout. Hefner granted Berman – who won an Academy Award for her feature documentary “Artie Shaw: Time is all you’ve got” – unprecedented access to his vast, personal archives and agreed that she would maintain creative and editorial freedom, according to Phase 4.
“Most people think they know who Hugh Hefner is from what they see in the media, however this film shows what an unbelievable, forward thinking revolutionary he was, and is an absolute must-see for audiences of every age, race, religion or sexual orientation,” said Meyerowitz in a statement. “This film is a perfect follow up for us after our release of ‘Valentino.’ There is a real market out there for docs that are as provocative and well made as this one.” [Brian Brooks]