UPDATE: A previous version of this story claimed that Jared Leto was attached to Ratner’s film, per earlier reports. Leto’s reps denied this on Wednesday afternoon.
In the wake of the Los Angeles Times exposé on Brett Ratner, Playboy Enterprises is putting all projects with Ratner’s production company, Ratpac Entertainment, on hold. This includes the biopic on Playboy founder Hugh Hefner that Ratner was attached to direct and produce.
“We are deeply troubled to learn about the accusations against Brett Ratner. We find this kind of behavior completely unacceptable,” a Playboy spokesperson said in a statement to TheWrap. “We are putting all further development of our projects with RatPac Entertainment on hold until we are able to review the situation further.”
It was previously reported that Jared Leto was attached to play Hefner in the film, which was a co-production between Ratpac and Playboy/Alta Loma Entertainment and had Hefner attached as executive producer prior to Hefner’s death on Sept. 27. But reps for Leto said the actor never signed on for the role and that he has no intentions to work with Ratner. Ratner was also planning to develop a reboot of Hefner’s 1960s variety show, “Playboy After Dark.” Ratpac did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
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Ratner held Hefner in high regard, and has held the rights to his life for more than a decade. In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter following Hefner’s death, Ratner called him a “friend” and said he “admired his decency and his hospitality.” He also discussed how he has tried for years to make the biopic a reality, which led to him to meet Hefner for the first time.
“I had a series of meetings with Hef, desperately trying to crack how to tell the story, which is the odyssey of his life,” he wrote. “The development process went through many incarnations — Imagine, Universal (with Robert Downey Jr. attached), Jerry Weintraub at Warners, and then, thankfully, it became available again. A dream came true: I bought it for RatPac. There will never be another Hugh Hefner, but getting to make a movie about his life is, I guess, the next best thing.”
But following Hefner’s death, debate over the Playboy founder’s legacy as one of the leading forces behind the “sexual revolution” of the mid-20th century ensued in the press, and some of his live-in girlfriends at the Playboy Mansion have spoken about how he treated them. In a 1999 Washington Post profile of Hefner written by TheWrap founder Sharon Waxman, Hefner’s ex-girlfriend Carrie Leigh noted that Hefner kept stacks of legal pads recounting his sexual acts.
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“”There were stacks of them,” Leigh said. “On the left, it would say the names of the people. Next to that, it would say the type of sex . . . and to the right of that, he would grade it. A-plus-plus-plus was the highest grade, down to C-minus.”
Holly Madison, one of the girlfriends who starred on the E! reality show “The Girls Next Door,” said in her book “Down The Rabbit Hole” that Hefner offered her quaaludes, which he called “thigh-openers,” and berated her when her appearance did not meet his standards.
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“I learned Hef was the manipulator and that he pitted us against one another,” she noted. “I realized I wasn’t treated well. I’m done being afraid of people. I don’t have any loyalty to Hef. I haven’t talked to him in four years, so there’s no reason to reach out now. Besides, it’s the truth.”
As for Ratner, actresses Natasha Henstridge and Olivia Munn are among his accusers, with Henstridge saying he “forced her to perform oral sex,” while Munn says Ratner masturbated in front of her in his trailer when she went to deliver a meal. Years later, Munn said she ran into Ratner at a CAA party, where he boasted of ejaculating onto magazine covers featuring her image. Ratner, through his attorney Martin Singer, disputed the accounts.