CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Michael Moore, Hugh Hefner
Aired October 19, 2002 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. He's the guerrilla filmmaker who has made a career of tackling tough issues.
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MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Well, here's my first question: You think it's a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?
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OWEN GLEIBERMAN, MOVIE CRITIC, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Michael Moore basically goes in there and throws this supremely intelligent hand grenade right into the middle of the issue.
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ANNOUNCER: He stirred up controversy by taking on big business and presidential politics.
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JAMES HIRSEN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST: He will exaggerate the truth; he'll leave out facts...
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ANNOUNCER: Now he takes on guns and violence in his new film, "Bowling for Columbine."
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MOORE: Thank you for not shooting me.
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ANNOUNCER: Director, writer, and political lightning rod Michael Moore.
Then, he's the pajama-ed patriarch of men's magazines.
The Chicago native who took a risk on the risque and built a sexual empire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like all men's, he's my hero.
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ANNOUNCER: Even at 76, he's still living the life most men dream about.
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HUGH HEFNER: I literally have seven girlfriends at the present time.
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ANNOUNCER: The original playboy, Hugh Hefner. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn.
Filmmaker Michael Moore became synonymous with controversy with his very first documentary, "Roger and Me," a scathing and often hilarious critique of corporate America.
Well, now Moore is back and provocative as ever. In his new film "Bowling for Columbine," Moore takes aim at guns and violence in America. And considering the recent sniper attacks in the Washington area, the film couldn't be more timely.
Here's Mike Muckler (ph).
MOORE: I'm here to open up an account.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, what type of account?
MOORE: I want the account where I can get the free gun.
Thank you very much. Wow.
MICHAEL MUCKLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Moore is at it again.
MOORE: Wow. Sweet.
MUCKLER: The man who became famous for taking shots at General Motors and corporate America with "Roger & Me" has a new target in his sights, guns and violence in America. With the movie, "Bowling For Columbine."
MOORE: You think it's a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?
MOORE: What is it about us, why do we have so much violence? Why are we both the victims and the masters of an enormous amount of violence, both at home and around the world?
GLEIBERMAN: Michael Moore basically goes in there and throws this supremely intelligent hand grenade right into the middle of the issue. I think to stir it up.
MUCKLER: It's the latest provocative work from Moore, who's no stranger to stirring up controversy.
MOORE: It's just an outrage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Charlton Heston did it -- that's what I was saying...
MOORE: It's an outrage!
MUCKLER: His book, "Stupid White Men," has spent over half a year on the "New York Times" bestseller list. In it, Moore launches an attack on politics in America.
MOORE: Al Gore is the president of the United States. The Republicans and the Democrats to me are two sides of the same coin; they both have let down the American people. The majority of the people in this country believe in the things that I believe in; they don't believe in the things George W. Bush believes in.
HIRSEN: He's a very effective propagandist because he utilizes a combination of incomplete data and emotional manipulation to pursue and push a one-sided agenda.
MUCKLER: Love him or hate him, Michael Moore has established himself as one of America's prominent social commentators.
MOORE: I won't have it on my conscience and I won't have it on my soul. I won't let it be said that I stood by and did nothing, said nothing -- you know -- while others had a rougher go of it than I had.
MUCKLER: Michael Moore was born in 1954 and raised in an Irish- Catholic household in Davison, Michigan, a suburb of Flint.
JEFF GIBBS, FRIEND: He was raised in a -- you know -- with the values from his parents and from the church, that you take care of the least among you.
MOORE: You know, generally, I was a good kid and I did well in school. But, I got easily offended at any form of injustice -- you know -- whether it was -- you know -- they ran out of -- you know -- chocolate milk and we had to drink the white milk. You know, in the cafeteria. I didn't -- it didn't matter what it was.
MUCKLER: Moore's father worked in the auto industry, making spark plugs. And Moore found himself influenced by a town where General Motors was king and organized labor fueled the machine.
MOORE: Our fathers and grandfathers who built that union created this enormous middle class that for the first time in history allowed the children of working people to go to college, to have a better life, to be covered with health insurance and things like that. And, and, that had I think an enormous impact on all of us.
MUCKLER: In high school, Moore was voted class comic. And was on the debate team.
GIBBS: He's actually very similar to how he is now. We both loved staying up late, contriving different schemes to change the world, and -- you know -- change our town and watching movies and listening to rock n' roll.
NAN JOHNSON, DAVISON AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY: If there was an issue that he did not agree with, if he felt that someone was being treated negatively, he was never afraid to stand up and speak for what he believed in.
MUCKLER: At age 18, Moore put his words into action. He ran for Davison School Board.
MOORE: I basically had -- you know -- one -- you know -- position, which was fire the principal. Actually, fire the principal and assistant principal; I guess that was two positions I had. And, I won. And within nine months, the principal and the assistant principal turned in their resignations. I thought, jeez, you know, this didn't take long and I'm still 18. I learned at an early age that, jeez, well maybe you can affect change and -- by not having to do a whole lot.
MUCKLER: Moore flirted briefly with college. Then at age 22, started his own independent newspaper, "The Flint Voice."
MOORE: I really saw the mission of the paper to stay on top of General Motors, inform the people what it was doing to the town, and encourage people to think about other issues, too, that were not being covered in the traditional news media.
ED BRADLEY, FLINT JOURNAL: It had kind of a reputation as a quote/unquote muckraking paper, I guess, in the eyes of the establishment here in town. Really raised a lot of eyebrows and brought up a lot of issues and did stir up some controversy.
MUCKLER: After a decade working on the "Voice," Moore moved to San Francisco to become editor of the left-wing magazine "Mother Jones."
MOORE: They liked what I was doing in Flint, and they were like, how'd you like to do this on a national level and I thought, wow, what a great opportunity to you know cover these issues and say the things I wanted to say but with a much larger audience.
MUCKLER: His first issue was well received and featured an auto worker on the cover. But after just four months, Moore was fired. He said, for ideological reasons. The publisher said for job performance. Moore's national platform was gone.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues...
MOORE: I'm back home in Flint and -- you know -- I'm depressed, I'm -- you know -- getting $99 a week on unemployment. Not knowing what to do.
MUCKLER: Down and out in Flint, Michigan.
ANNOUNCER: Also ahead, he started as a copywriter and became publishing royalty.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wanted to become and he became the lord of legs, the baron of bosoms, the duke of derriere.
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HUGH HEFNER: Welcome, I'm Hugh Hefner, your host.
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ANNOUNCER: The prince of "Playboy," Hugh Hefner. That's later on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MOORE: Everybody should get fired at least once in their life. It's a life-affirming experience.
MUCKLER: In 1986, Michael Moore had lost his national voice as editor of "Mother Jones" magazine. He returned home to Flint, Michigan where he saw General Motors laying off thousands of workers and a town on the decline.
JOHNSON: People were losing their jobs; people that had worked for years and years for General Motors all of a sudden didn't have a job. They had families to take care of.
MOORE: I couldn't believe at a time when GM was still posting these big profits that they would be doing this to the town and so I just decided I had to do something.
MOORE: Can you hear me? We're rolling. Hi, I'm Michael Moore.
MUCKLER: What Moore did was make "Roger & Me," a documentary about Flint's difficult times.
GIBBS: He'd been through a very difficult period of time and he was just obsessed with making this movie and telling the story of Flint.
MUCKLER: Moore was a novice filmmaker, learning his craft through trial and error. MOORE: I knew nothing -- I learned that a tripod about maybe a year into making the movie was a good idea because it kept the camera steady.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three days only.
MOORE: We're going to have to report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have an appointment?
MOORE: No, we're going to try to see Roger Smith.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you're not.
MUCKLER: The movie showed Moore on a personal quest to find General Motors CEO Roger Smith and ask him why General Motors was eliminating jobs in Flint. It also became a social commentary on what Moore saw as corporate greed in America's economic ills.
MOORE: We live in the wealthiest country in the world, and Flint is the hometown of the wealthiest corporation in the world. Why are they closing factories at a time when there's -- you know -- making $5 billion in profits.
GLEIBERMAN: Well, Michael Moore invented his whole style in "Roger & Me." Stalking CEOs -- Michael Moore comes on as the fearless proletariat with a camera who is going to get the truth.
MUCKLER: The film was shot for just $250,000.
BRADLEY: Michael actually said at the time that he felt he would be lucky if this movie could be -- they put up a sheet in the Union Hall somewhere and he'd get to show this movie and take it around in a van.
MUCKLER: But instead, it became a surprise hit at film festivals. It got picked up nationwide and would become the highest- grossing narrative documentary of all time.
LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: You're coming out of the Reagan era, you're in the Bush era, the economy is allegedly so good and yet anyone out there knew there were all these homeless people -- knew that things were not really as good as they were being portrayed. And this documentary plugged into that.
MUCKLER: But "Roger & Me" also faced criticism. Moore was accused of misrepresenting the facts. Filming people being evicted from their home who'd never worked for General Motors. And not being precise about when GM had laid off 30,000 Flint workers.
ROZEN: The reason it's called a documentary is everything in there is the way it's -- is the way it is. He was a little loose with how he put it all together. The question is did he learn from that, or has he continued to do it?
MOORE: It's like it was just 10,000 people that lost their jobs, Mike, during those three years, not 30,000 that lost -- I mean, it's like -- can you imagine having that conversation about -- I mean, it's 10,000 people. There's no dates in the film. It's meant as an essay about that decade.
MUCKLER: "Roger & Me" appeared on over 100 critics top 10 lists for the best films of 1989. But for Moore, the film's success is tempered.
MOORE: Well, my hope was that when the people would see "Roger & Me" and then do something to help Flint. If that was my main criterion, and it was, for making the film then for me, personally, the film is a failure. Because that's not what happened.
MUCKLER: But "Roger & Me" did open new doors for Moore to get his voice heard. He went to Hollywood, making the film "Canadian Bacon," a political satire where the president of the United States tries to boost his popularity by making Canada public enemy number one.
ALAN ALDA, ACTOR: Surrender her pronto, or we'll level Toronto.
MUCKLER: But the movie was mired in problems, most notably the loss of star John Candy, who died before filming was completed.
ROZEN: "Canadian Bacon" was just a mess; it's a film they barely released, if at all, and I think anyone who has caught up with it on cable doesn't necessarily think he should be making more feature films.
MUCKLER: Moore also took the aggressive style he'd developed on "Roger & Me" to television with a satirical news magazine "TV Nation."
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: It's TV Nation with Michael Moore.
MUCKLER: In its two-year run, beginning in 1994, "TV Nation" won an Emmy award. It reveled in going against the grain.
MOORE: We are crime fighters, and this is a corporate crime fighting chicken.
MOORE: In the fist part of the century, we had comedians who -- like Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx -- and they used humor as a means of social commentary and so we try to do that every week.
MUCKLER: Moore brought the same attitude to another show, 1999's "The Awful Truth."
MOORE: Judge Starr, Judge Starr, Judge Starr, I think I've found a cheaper way to conduct a witch hunt!
ROZEN: I think Michael Moore is probably best on TV. Michael Moore is going to go charging in, put his microphone in someone's face, and ask embarrassing questions. It's sort of here is the plumper version of Mike Wallace and with a humorous twist.
MUCKLER: Moore also invaded the publishing world with a 1996 book "Downsize This," which took more shots at corporate America.
MOORE: I mean, the American dream was to be able to -- you work hard and the company prospers, you prosper. Now it's you work hard, the company prospers, and you lose your job!
HIRSEN: He equates corporate downsizing with terrorism. He equated the corporate downsizing in Michigan with the Oklahoma City bombing. So I think his worldview is to the far left.
MUCKLER: The book became a surprise hit, spending a month on the "New York Times" bestseller list. Michael Moore was a multi-media force.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Moore's guerrilla brand of film making puts him in handcuffs.
ZAHN: Michael Moore hits the campaign trail and ponders the impact of stupid white men when we return. But first, here's this week's "Passages."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: String of recent sniper shootings in the D.C. area has hit Hollywood. 20th Century Fox is delaying the release of "Phone Booth" a movie about a crazed gunman. The same thing happened with movies like "Collateral Damage" after the September 11 attacks.
No new release date has been given for "Phone Booth."
One of Hollywood's most recognized couples is pregnant, again. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are expecting a new baby next spring. It will be the second child for the couple, though Douglas has an older son from a previous marriage. Now, there should be no shortage of diapers in the house -- their first child Dylan has just turned two.
Dude, are you getting a severance package? Rumors swirled this week that Steve, the blonde Dell Computer pitchman played by Ben Curtis is being dropped from future commercials. After two years of "Dude, you're getting a Dell," and "Hello Mrs. Lindsay," the PC maker says it's just trying an alternate campaign. Curtis' agent, however, says this is not the end of the Dell guy. Question is, could Steve soon join Fred the Donut Guy, the Snapple Lady, the Taco Dog, Mr. Whipple, and the Energizer Bunny in the commercial retirement home? Stay tuned.
For more celebrity news, dude, you got to get a copy of "People" Magazine this week. Our profile of Michael Moore will continue after, appropriately, these commercials.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MUCKLER: In 2000, Michael Moore put on a different hat, that of music video director for the politically active rock band Rage Against the Machine.
The video's concept was for the band to barge in and perform at the symbolic heart of the American economy, the New York Stock Exchange.
TOM MORELLO, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE: What you see -- the -- you know -- the band being forcibly ejected from the Stock Exchange and Michael Moore being led away in handcuffs all really happened.
MOORE: There's lots of things you -- you know -- that you should take a stand for, maybe, in your life and it might lead to you being arrested, but one of those shouldn't be a music video for MTV. You know what I'm saying?
MOORE: I'm voting for Ralph Nader because he is the most qualified candidate.
MUCKLER: Moore spent the 2000 presidential campaign stumping for Ralph Nader and taking shots at Al Gore and George W. Bush.
MOORE: It's tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber.
RALPH NADER, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, GREEN PARTY: I think he'd still like the Democratic Party to become more progressive and he's willing to go outside it and challenge it as he did in support of my presidential candidacy.
MUCKLER: The election results...
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I George Walker Bush do solemnly swear...
MUCKLER: ... left him incensed.
MOORE: We've got somebody sitting in the Oval Office that isn't there by the will of the people and I just thought, you know, I've got to say something about this.
MUCKLER: Moore's outrage turned into the book "Stupid White Men." In it, he addresses issues of race, education and the state of America. He asks President Bush, are you able to read and write on an adult level? He calls Bill Clinton one of the best Republican presidents we have ever had. And he blasts both major political parties.
MOORE: They're there to do the bidding of the top 10 percent; the wealthiest 10 percent. It's really wrong in a democracy to have the upper ten percent -- they get to have two political parties -- and the other 90 percent have nothing.
HIRSEN: His worldview is in fact not centered -- certainly not right -- but not even -- you ask that question -- not even really mainstream left. MUCKLER: After the events of September 11, Moore's publisher, Harper Collins, decided the timing wasn't right to release a book that referred to President Bush as the Thief-in-Chief. "Stupid White Men" stayed in limbo for months, with no sign of being released.
MOORE: I decided not to just let the thing die because the publisher didn't believe in it. I believed in it, and I believe that I'm in the mainstream. I believe that I'm in the majority.
MUCKLER: Moore went on his own speaking tour, reading chapters from his then-unpublished work.
MOORE: This talk today has been approved by the Office of Homeland Security. Do not be afraid.
Some librarian heard me talk about how the book wasn't coming out and she got on the Internet and got all these librarians writing e- mails to Harper Collins demanding that the book come out.
ANN SPARANESE, LIBRARIAN: And I wrote a little piece, it was a little letter -- it might have had four or five paragraphs in it. Basically it said this seems like something that we might want to do something about.
MOORE: They called me up and they said, what did you tell the librarians? I said, I don't know any librarians. We're getting hate mail from librarians. That's one terrorist group you don't want to mess with. Whoa. Scary librarians. They freaked out. Finally they said OK, this is going to be too much trouble for us and they put the book out.
MUCKLER: "Stupid White Men" reached number one on the "New York Times" bestseller list in its third week of release.
MOORE: It's because it's full of good sense and it's full of outrageous questions and you know going after those in power whatever. I think that's very American.
MUCKLER: Moore's book has its critics.
HIRSEN: Because I think he will exaggerate the truth, he'll leave out facts very conveniently, but I think it's true of his ilk that they think that the corporations and the government are secretly behind the scenes trying to shaft all of us. There's a great resonance to that kind of mistruth, half-truth and Michael Moore takes advantage of that constantly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to do a background check.
MOORE: At the bank here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the bank. Which we are a licensed firearm dealer.
MUCKLER: This month, Moore is back in theatres with his latest documentary, "Bowling For Columbine." The title comes from the bowling class the two Columbine shooters attended the day of the tragedy.
MOORE: Wow. Sweet.
MUCKLER: The film questions America's culture of guns and violence.
GLEIBERMAN: That is not a simple question, and the power of this film is that Michael Moore isn't looking to provide a simple answer for it.
MUCKLER: The film features a series of interviews, including NRA President Charlton Heston and shock rocker Marilyn Manson.
MOORE: If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine and the people in the community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?
MARILYN MANSON, ROCK STAR: I wouldn't say a single word to them; I would listen to what they have to say. And that's what no one did.
MOORE: I'm afraid that as Americans, we've lost our compass. When you start to be afraid of everything and you no longer can discern what the real fears are and what the non-fears are, then you're kind of hopeless. And you're lost. And I think that's where we're at right now in this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Moore in "Bowling for Columbine."
MUCKLER: The film became the first documentary to be accepted at the Cannes Film Festival in 46 years where it received a 13-minute standing ovation.
GLEIBERMAN: I think that he's grown as a filmmaker with this film in part because the subject is so deadly serious. I mean, you feel Michael Moore's passion about these issues as well as his ability to satirize them.
MUCKLER: For Moore, that passion only grows stronger.
MOORE: I have even more responsibility now than I had when I made "Roger & Me." I have even a greater burden on me to make sure that I do something with this camera, with my writing, to try and make this a little better place to live, especially for those who have far less than what I or you have.
ZAHN: Michael Moore's new documentary, "Bowling For Columbine," grossed $206,000 in just eight theaters last weekend. The film is now open in select cities nationwide.
MUCKLER: Coming up, loaded with top celebrities and beautiful women, his home is where most men's fantasies become reality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come through those gates and you are in another world. MUCKLER: Go inside the grotto with Hugh Hefner when we return.
ZAHN: His life and lifestyle and legendary. Hugh Hefner at 76. He remains the ultimate playboy, the original swinger, still partying, still running around with young women, still reinventing himself, and still begging the question, Heff, how do you do it? Here's Bruce Burkhardt.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hugh Hefner, the life of a never-ending party for over 75 years.
H. HEFNER: I literally have seven girlfriends at the present time, and we're like a bunch of kids.
CHRISTINE HEFNER, CEO, PLAYBOY ENTERPRISES: I think he's certainly redefining what it means to be 75.
BURKHARDT: He is a blend of old-school and new, with an intoxicating ability to squeeze out every ounce of publicity in whatever he does or wherever he goes.
BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Needless to say, like all men he's my hero. I mean I'm 30 years younger than he, so that gives me something to shoot for.
GARRY MARSHALL, PRODUCER: You know, the old joke. This girl said to him once, some 18-year-old said to him, "I've never dated anybody over 25" and Hef said, "neither have I."
BURKHARDT: That magazine of his, 15 million readers worldwide. His company today is worth more than three-quarters of a billion dollars. Hugh Hefner, one of the original swingers, a man who helped pioneer the sexual revolution.
H. HEFNER: One of the things that makes my life even better than it appears from the outside is that I am a very reflective person and expectant person, and I look at my life very much through the eyes of the boy who dreamed the dreams. I am still in a very real way that boy.
BURKHARDT: That boy grew up in a modest neighborhood on the West End of Chicago. His parents, Glen and Grace Hefner, were conservative Protestants. Both worked at teachers. His upbringing was nurturing, although when it came to affection, it was rare.
H. HEFNER: There was no hugging or kissing or display of emotion of any kind, and because in turn they were raised, you know they were farm people from Nebraska, and they were raised in typically repressive environments themselves, and I think to some extent you pass that on.
BURKHARDT: Hefner lived just blocks away from school, Sayer (ph) Elementary. While most kids his age were enjoying that age of innocence, Hugh Hefner kept mostly to himself. That was, until 1940 when he entered Sky Mist (ph) High School. It was here that the shy teen broke from his shell. Hefner learned how to dance the jitterbug, and he fell in love for the first time.
H. HEFNER: She was working at a drug store that summer, my Summer of '42, at the age of 16, and I was an usher in a neighborhood movie house. So, when I got through with that, I would go and pick her up and take her bowling or take her dancing, take her to a movie, and that was a very sweet and delicious time.
BURKHARDT: He wasn't an enthusiastic student, but he did possess a genius IQ of 152, defining himself creatively outside of the classroom.
H. HEFNER: The happiest time of my life was my early childhood, unrelated to school, but in the neighborhood with my peers, student council and school paper and wrote plays and songs and performed.
BURKHARDT: In 1944, following his high school graduation, Hef, as he became known, joined the Army, serving in the infantry and writing for the military newspaper. But it wasn't until his honorable discharge in 1946 that Hugh Hefner aggressively pursued his passion for publishing.
He studied at the Chicago Art Institute before attending the University of Illinois. As a freshman, Hef doubled up on his course load, freeing up his upper class years for writing and illustrating the school paper, "The Daily Illinois."
In the campus humor magazine "Shaft," Hef experimented with something never before seen in a college publication, a feature profiling a coed of the month.
PROF. LOIS BANNER, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: This was a revolutionary period. It was revolutionary on many levels, and Hefner in a sense sensed one of those revolutions that was going on, and he became almost a personal vanguard of that revolution, the revolution in sexuality.
BURKHARDT: When we return to the story of Hugh Hefner, the controversial "Playboy" magazine is launched, and the young publisher nearly calls it quits.
H. HEFNER: "Playboy" has never played on a level playing field. Always, there have been strong forces there vying against me.
BURKHARDT: In the early 1950s, Hugh Hefner had big dreams. Free from the army, the 23-year-old married his steady college girlfriend, Millie Williams, and he became a dad twice over. Little did Hef know that his daughter, Christie, would play a critical role in her father's company in the years ahead.
C. HEFNER: I have a relationship with my father and was protected from the hardest part, which would have been in the public eye and everybody meeting me for the first time, seeing me not as Christie but as Hugh Hefner's daughter.
BURKHARDT: As a young man, Hef struggled as a promotional copyrighter for "Esquire" magazine a dead-end job as far as he was concerned.
H. HEFNER: "Esquire" was always for older guys, but it had changed, and like other magazines that were more popular like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and "Argosy" it was very much devoted to male bonding and outdoor adventure, and I wanted to create a magazine that was a little more sophisticated and was -- focused really on the romantic connection between the sexes from a male point of view.
BURKHARDT: Hef's vision would revolutionize publishing. He borrowed money from his mother, took out loans on his furniture, and designed his first layout on his kitchen floor. He called his magazine "Stag," quickly changing the name to "Playboy." On the cover, America's bombshell, Marilyn Monroe.
MAHER: I mean he couldn't even get funding for it when he proposed it, you know. He said he was trying to sell this idea to publishers, and he said, you know "sex is a sure thing" and they were like, "I don't know. That's a risky idea, naked women in a magazine." You know what I mean, who were these people back then?
H. HEFNER: Breaking down those walls and boundaries and stereotypes is a part of what my life is all about.
BURKHARDT: The controversial first issue hit newsstands in December, 1953. There wasn't a cover date on the magazine because Hef wasn't sure he'd be able to finance another issue.
H. HEFNER: Well, I've never thought of "Playboy" quite frankly as a sex magazine. I always thought of it as a lifestyle magazine in which sex was one important ingredient.
BANNER: He was at the right place at the right time, and he was very bold. Much of his brilliance is as a marketer.
BURKHARDT: By 1960, "Playboy" had it its stride. Circulation exceeded one million. Unfortunately, his marriage was not as successful. After 10 years together, the pair divorced.
C. HEFNER: Oh, I mean I was a child but if I had to try and describe it, I think that they got married too young and I think they were typical of a generation that, unlike my generation, you know got married right out of school and it's hard to know who you are and who you're going to grow up to be, and whether you're ready to be married when you're 21 years old. BURKHARDT: Undeterred, Hefner expanded the "Playboy" franchise, hosting his own television, "Playboy's Penthouse." Viewers thought it took place in Hef's swank Chicago mansion. It was actually a sound stage resembling the playboy's pad. He would host a similar program in the late '60s, "Playboy After Dark."
Hef also launched a chain of exclusive nightclubs. Its hostesses known as Playboy bunnies became as famous as the celebrity guest list.
H. HEFNER: What I created came out of my own adolescent dreams of fantasies. I was trying to redefine what it meant to be a young, urban unattached male.
MARSHALL: I think he had some people say smut and nudity and everything, and you know he wanted to become and he became the lord of legs, the baron of bosoms, the duke of derriere. I go on forever with this. But they weren't rooting for him to be that.
BURKHARDT: Hefner's swinging days suffered a double setback in 1963. He was arrested and later acquitted on obscenity charges while feminist Gloria Steinem posed undercover as a Playboy bunny and printed her scathing commentary for all to read.
But what Hef did not or could not have planned for in 1969, was Bob Guccione, the flamboyant editor-in-chief of "Penthouse Magazine." Guccione's philosophy was considered more daring, and he wanted nothing more than to strip his archrival, Hugh Hefner, of his publishing crown.
BOB GUCCIONE, JR., PUBLISHER, "GEAR" MAGAZINE: We were in sort of mortal combat, "Penthouse" and "Playboy," friendly mortal combat.
BURKHARDT: In 1971, Hef expanded his empire by moving out west. He purchased a sprawling California mansion, nestled within Beverly Hills.
H. HEFNER: I think that Playboy Mansion West has been referred to as Shangri-la, and to some extent it is. You come through those gates and you are in another world. We're a block from Sunset Boulevard, but you feel as if you are in an English countryside with wild birds and animals out on the lawn, and filled with beautiful women and celebrities and very attractive people.
BURKHARDT: When Hugh Hefner's story continues, another crack at marital bliss.
MAHER: Why did Hugh Hefner ever, given his situation, enter into a state of matrimony?
BURKHARDT: And another side of Hef, one rarely seen.
ZAHN: Next year, "Playboy" will celebrate its 50th anniversary, five decades of playmates, from notables to unknowns, which brings us to this week's "Where Are They Now?"
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BURKHARDT: Janice Pennington was one of the original "Barker's Beauties" from the hit game show "The Price is Right." Before her long run on the show, Pennington came on down as Playboy's Miss May in 1971. So where is Janice Pennington now? Pennington wrote a book in 1994 that told the bizarre tale of her first husband, a U.S. spy who disappeared in 1975. She has since remarried. After 29 seasons on "The Price is Right," Pennington left the show in 2000.
ANNOUNCER: Our look at Hugh Hefner will continue when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.
BURKHARDT: It started as a provocative magazine, put together in Hugh Hefner's kitchen. It became an institution, one that plays a role in many a young man's past.
MAHER: I mean "Playboy" is very much the same as it was when I was 13 or whenever it was, 12, 13, when I first was, you know, stealing it from homes I was babysitting at. It still has a very regimented approach.
BURKHARDT: An approach that made its mark for nearly three decades. But by the early '80s, "Playboy" began to lose its hop. In 1985, Hef suffered a mild stroke and "Playboy" needed help, the surprise choice to turn things around, his daughter Christie.
H. HEFNER: And morale was very low and she came to me and said she'd like very much to take a crack at overhauling the business end of the company and it seemed like a good idea.
C. HEFNER: This wasn't what I expected to. I expected to go into either law and politics or journalism, and it was really one of those paths in the road that my father originally suggested as what I think we both thought would be just a couple of years, and turned into a career.
BURKHARDT: As the new CEO, she plotted a new course for the ailing franchise.
C. HEFNER: Well, I think in the '80s we certainly wrestled with what was the role of "Playboy" magazine in a post-sexual revolution, post feminist world.
BURKHARDT: As CEO, Christie Hefner gave the magazine the financial facelift it desperately needed, while her father concentrated on the magazine's content and its image.
H. HEFNER: And always on the cover, and it's part of the fun of it, is the "Playboy" rabbit. Sometimes he's there where you can see him and sometimes he's hidden. BURKHARDT: Of course, there's one very revealing trademark of "Playboy" and that's the centerfold. In 1989, Hef went gaga for one model in particular, Kimberley Conrad.
KIMBERLEY CONRAD, 1989 PLAYMATE OF THE YEAR: You know, I was there to do my shoot and then, you know, six months, seven months later he asked me out. He was in a transition. He and his girlfriend had broken up and my boyfriend and I were broken up, so he asked me out and I declined a couple of times. I wasn't sure, you know, and then finally we went out and we had a great time.
BURKHARDT: A great time that blossomed into a brief courtship. The two got married later that year. Children soon followed, two boys.
CONRAD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the older brother. He's very focused. Cooper is the little, he's like Jack Nicholson, the entertainer, the actor. But they're both very bright, very, bright.
BURKHARDT: But after nine and a half years of marriage, Hefner separated from his wife.
MAHER: Why did marriage work out? Why did he ever try it? Why did he ever -- you know, it's sort of like when people said, why did the Roman Empire fall? No, why did it last so long? Why did Hugh Hefner ever, given his situation, enter into a state of matrimony?
BURKHARDT: Today, Hugh Hefner is a bachelor again, currently dating, he says, seven women at one time.
H. HEFNER: Well, I'm in remarkably good health and I think part of that has to do with a positive attitude on life. Part of it is genetic. My mother lived to be 101, so to some extent I'm still a 75- year-old young man.
BURKHARDT: On this day, Hugh Hefner was as real as he could be. His sons were over to shoot some hoops, and his trademark silk pajamas were replaced by blue jeans, the only sound you could hear, his boys on the basketball court.
H. HEFNER: It's always difficult to be the children of celebrities, and I think that being the sons of "Playboy" adds a little something in addition that one has to cope with.
BURKHARDT: To help the boys cope, Hef came up with a unique living situation. His ex-wife Kimberley Conrad and their two boys live right next door. A private path through their backyards connects the two properties.
H. HEFNER: Even though, you know, there were conflicts within the marriage, the love was still there and the sense of continuity with family was still there, and it is because you know for the boys, I mean always. I mean in the best of all worlds children should be raised by both parents, our pride and joy.
BURKHARDT: There's no doubt that Hugh Hefner is enjoying this time in his life.
MARSHALL: At 75, he's going out to nightclubs and he's dancing around. But he sits, if you watch. I mean he dances his dances and then the cameras are off and he sits a minute, but he has the energy, has always had that energy since he was a very young man.
BURKHARDT: He's also enjoying financial success. Playboy Enterprises is worth more than three-quarters of a billion dollars.
C. HEFNER: And I think the remarkable thing about my father is that he is very much able to live in the moment, and he has proven that over and over again, and when he says "I've never been happier," he means it.
H. HEFNER: I would like to be remembered as somebody who has changed the world in some positive way in a social, sexual sense, and I'd be very happy with that. I'm a kid who dreamed the dreams and made them come true.
ZAHN: In an effort to revitalize "Playboy," Hugh Hefner has hired a new editor, and announced that less may be more when it comes to sex. Hefner now believes that "Playboy's" future success depends on running fewer pictorials and more, dare we say it, articles.
That is it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Next week, music, mommies and moving on. It's Melissa Etheridge and Celine Dion. And coming up this week on "AMERICAN MORNING," the battle of the bulge, a $1 trillion disease. We're going to explore the facts on fat, and the future (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us.
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