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Hefner's New 'Girl Next Door': Sarah Palin?

For Hugh Hefner, this election year has been especially diverting. After all, the presidential campaign has played right to the Playboy magazine founder's twin passions: women and politics.

B&C Executive Editor Melissa Grego had a chance to talk about both with Hef recently over lunch at the Playboy Mansion in Bel-Air, Calif., for an upcoming installment of Mel's Diner. And while he acknowledged that Sen. Hillary Clinton's primary campaign and the vice-presidential nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin are history-making, Hefner declined to declare 2008 the Year of the Woman.

“If you make it the Year of the Woman, then the next year won't be. I don't think that's right,” he said, preferring to think of it as the Year of Change (Democratic candidate Barack Obama would be pleased).

When the talk inevitably turned to political It Girl Palin, Hefner, 82, couldn't suppress his mischievous sense of humor.

“I wish Obama had chosen Hillary Clinton as his running mate,” he said. “Then we'd have a real catfight.”

Joking with Kevin Burns, executive producer of E!'s Playboy reality show, The Girls Next Door (which had its fifth-season premiere Oct. 5), Hefner said he was working on getting Palin into the pages of the men's magazine.

“We'll have a great nude pictorial of her,” he said with a laugh.

“Hey, she was a beauty queen,” Burns added. “I think without those glasses…”

Indeed, Hef said. “Let me tell you, once you take those glasses off, it's every man for himself.”

Look for the complete conversation with Hefner and Burns—including exclusive video from the Playboy Mansion kitchen—coming soon at Mel's Diner (www.broadcastingcable.com/melsdiner).

Props All Around

If you happened to catch the season premiere of NBC's Chuck last week, your eye may have been drawn to an unusual bit of product placement.

During the opening credits, the titular hero (played by Zachary Levi) is seen breakfasting on a bowl of cereal. On the table, conspicuously framed in the shot, is a cereal box bearing the name “Nuts & More.”

A new brand from General Mills? The latest feat of product integration masterminded by NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman? Nope—just a generic cereal box prop.

But if “Nuts & More” struck you as strangely familiar—as it did B&C special correspondent Jennifer Ciminillo—that's because it showed up on network television the week before.

Turns out the same prop had a cameo in the Sept. 25 season premiere of ABC's Grey's Anatomy. As Ciminillo noticed, Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) is seen in the opening minutes munching on Nuts & More straight out of the box.

So how does a fictional cereal get a walk-on in two different shows that air on two different networks, come from two different studios (Grey's comes from ABC Studios, Chuck from Warner Bros.) and share no producers?

Apparently, “Nuts & More” was created specifically for Grey's by the show's propmaster, Angela Whiting. Once it entered Hollywood's prop circulation system, it ended up at Independent Studio Services, where the folks at Chuck picked it up.

Asked how she feels about seeing her off-brand cereal popping up on other shows, Whiting expressed concern.

“It's a fear,” she said. “You don't want to see your props getting overused on other shows.”

It's not the first time a prop product has turned up in different shows. Last spring, bloggers noticed that the same issue of “Playpen” magazine appeared in an episode of ABC's Lost and later on USA Network's In Plain Sight.

Frankly, we wish it would happen more often. Maybe next time, Cristina will have her hand in a bag of “Sabor de Soledad,” the preferred snack chip of Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on NBC's 30 Rock.

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