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High-def With Hef

15 Aug, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Girls Next Door: The Complete Series

Renowned lothario and magazine publisher explains why watching movies on Blu-ray Disc beats digital every time, including Netflix

Cultural icon Hugh Hefner needs little introduction. As founder and publisher of Playboy magazine and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, there isn’t much day-to-day detail Hefner doesn’t attend to (or miss) — even at the age of 85.

MPI Media Group Nov. 29 (prebook Oct. 22) is releasing all six seasons of hit E! reality television show The Girls Next Door: The Complete Series as a 17-DVD boxed set for $129.98.

In addition to featuring Playboy Mansion girls Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson, Crystal Harris, and twin sisters Karissa and Kristina Shannon, the boxed set includes myriad hours of commentaries with the girls, in addition to deleted and extended scenes.

HM: Did you enjoy participating in the show?

Hefner: Well, my participation in the show was essentially the show itself. The girls themselves have done voice-overs for all the seasons.

HM: Do you enjoy watching movies on DVD or Blu-ray?

Hefner: Yes, all the time. Absolutely. Movie nights are a major highlight of my week. We run new films in 35mm from the studios on Sunday, but we run classic films on DVD and Blu-ray on Friday and Saturday. Blu-ray, which I prefer, is just the high-definition version of DVD.

HM: What do you think about the digitization of movies?

Hefner: I don’t think it makes a great deal of difference. I’m a collector. I prefer to have the physical entity. I have thousands and thousands of movies, and I like the fact that I can look at any one of them at any time day or night.

HM: Would you prefer a physical copy of a movie from your library or to simply push a button on a console to locate a digital copy?

Hefner: It doesn’t make a lot of difference. The only virtue of having it physically in your hands is that you can stop for a moment to go to the bathroom or get a bite to eat.

Separate of that, if the quality of a digital copy is not 100% of a disc, then I would not be interested in it at all. We run everything on a big projection screen, like a movie theater.

HM: Will there be a follow-up to “Girls”?

Hefner: There already are very successful spin-offs of the show, including “Kendra,” which is in its third or fourth season, with Kendra Wilkinson and her family. And Holly has had two seasons in Las Vegas with “Holly’s World.”

HM: Are you a fan of reality TV?

Hefner: Not particularly, and only when it is at the Mansion [laughing]. I had major reservations [when first approached about “Girls Next Door”]. Most of the people who do reality TV don’t have much of a life, so they have the time to spend on it. I’m a very busy fellow. The only reason I agreed to do it was the inspired notion of telling my life and life at the Playboy Mansion through the eyes of the girls. It took a lot of the pressure off of me. And that turned out to be an inspired idea because we wound up with not only simply the male audience, which we anticipated, but also a huge female following. Over 70% of the audience for the show on a global level is female. And that opened up a whole additional audience for Playboy, which is wonderful.

HM: What’s in your Blu-ray player right now?

Hefner: I’m watching with my girls “Dexter.” In terms of movies, yesterday we watched Cowboys & Aliens, and (checking his calendar) we’ll be watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes next Sunday. Coming up on this Friday and Saturday will be This Gun for Hire.

Casablanca is my all-time favorite film. We run that every year on my birthday weekend. It has everything. It is one of the absolute best screenplays. It is unrequited love. It is redemption. It is friendship, loyalty, patriotism, humor and a great musical score. It’s a timeless story, even if it is set in World War II.

It’s actually turned into one of the favorite weekends of our friends of the year. Everybody dresses in the style of the ’40s and Casablanca. And then we have champagne and caviar, and it turns into a particularly special evening.

HM: Have you ever rented a movie from Netflix?

Hefner: I don’t know what it is.

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