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'The Playboy Club' Anti-Porn Groups Boycott: Pink Cross, Morality In Media Protest NBC Show

First Posted: 06/30/11 07:02 AM ET Updated: 08/30/11 06:12 AM ET

Amber Heard Playboy

NBC thought they'd be getting a major hit with this coming fall's new stylized 60s drama, "The Playboy Club." So far, the early returns have mostly involved some major controversy.

Of course, when it comes to TV, the latter often leads to the former.

Starring Eddie Cibrian as a shady yet charming lawyer and Amber Heard as a new employee at the original Chicago Playboy Club, the show is an hourlong drama meant to mimic the style and feel of "Mad Men."

Having already weathered the storm of KSL, a Church of Latter-day Saints-owned Salt Lake City affiliate refusing to air the show (it was eventually picked up by a MyNetworkTV affiliate in the city), NBC has been hit with concurrent protests by two religious, anti-porn groups, who are calling for viewers to sign petitions against the show's broadcast, and promising to boycott advertising sponsors.

Pink Cross, "a faith-based IRS approved 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to reaching out to adult industry workers offering emotional, financial and transitional support," which was founded by former adult star-turned-religiously rehabbed anti-porn crusader Shelley Lubben, is participating in an online petition against the show.

"What's shown in 'The Playboy Club' is not real--Playboy definitely damages people. It's pornography, it's sex trafficking and it exploits women," Lubben told Fox411.com. "The series looks like it's all cute, taking place back in the old days -- it seems harmless, but then they show a quick clip of three people going at it in the bathroom. NBC is breaking the law with this show -- they're not meeting FCC standards."

Of course, NBC has released a pilot for the show and very little else, meaning that the quick clip -- and the Playboy brand -- is probably all Pink Cross has to go on when it comes to basing their allegations. That's something that Morality In Media, another religious group joining Pink Cross in its protest, seemed to acknowledge in a statement.

"Since the 50s, sleazy Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Magazine has pushed a philosophy which dictated that, to the 'sophisticated man,' the female is a mere toy to be used, abused and discarded. That philosophy has inflicted unimaginable harm to our society, now documented by years of research. The harms of pornography include addiction of children and adults, violence against women, sexual trafficking, increased child pornography, destruction of marriages, and so much more," the group's president, Patrick A. Trueman, said.

Morality in Media is leading the War Against Illegal Pornography protest, of which Pink Cross is a part.

Later in their statement, Morality in Media alleges that Playboy used to be considered "soft-core porn," while the FCC forbids the broadcast of hardcore porn. How they expect the hardcore guideline to regulate the soft-core issue remains to be seen, though Scott Pierce, a Salt Lake City TV critic, in his response to the NBC affiliate's refusal to air the show in that city, insisted that there is far more objectionable content on broadcast television.

I can say without hesitation that every episode of "Law & Order: SVU" is more "adult" than the pilot of "The Playboy Club." And KSL has aired almost 300 episodes of that show. ...

The obvious message KSL is sending is - we don't care if a show is adult as long as it doesn't have the word "Playboy" in the title. And if this one had been called, "The Gentleman's Club" and didn't have the bunny ears and tails, it would be airing on Ch. 5 this fall.

Advocacy protests against television shows are a time-honored tradition, of course; it seems that each year, new shows are chosen for boycotting for their allegedly offensive material. Last season, it was an MTV adaptation of a British show, the racy, teen sex-laden "Skins," that drew the ire of protestors, though "The Playboy Club," with its public airwave chasteness and age of consent actors, shares little in common with that show.

Still, after withering criticism and the significant loss of advertisers, MTV opted to not bring that show back for a second season.

What has been left unsaid in the protests, but could be fueling the issue from within, is the "Playboy Club" cast. The show stars Eddie Cibrian, who famously had an affair with LeAnn Rimes before divorcing his wife to marry the country singer.

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Filed by Jordan Zakarin  |