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Playboy temporarily halts plans for a Brett Ratner-directed Hugh Hefner biopic

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Film director Brett Ratner, shown in December 2015, has been accused of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.
(Mike Coppola / Getty Images)

Playboy Enterprises is temporarily halting plans to team with movie director Brett Ratner to produce a biopic of the company’s founder, Hugh Hefner.

The decision to put the project “on hold” followed a Los Angeles Times investigation, published Wednesday, that detailed allegations of six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, of sexual harassment and other inappropriate conduct by Ratner.

“We are deeply troubled to learn about the accusations against Brett Ratner,” a spokesman for Playboy Enterprises said Wednesday. “We find this kind of behavior completely unacceptable. We are putting all further development of our projects with RatPac Entertainment on hold until we are able to review the situation further.”

The filmmakers had announced plans to produce the film, which they hoped would feature Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto as Hefner. But now, that is not going to happen.

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“Jared Leto is not and was not attached to a Brett Ratner directed Hugh Hefner film, nor will he be working with him in the future,” his representative Robin Baum said Wednesday in a statement.

Ratner’s attorney, Marty Singer, has “categorically” denied all allegations that Ratner engaged in sexual misconduct.

Ratner had planned to direct the untitled film, and had discussed casting Leto in the starring role. In addition to Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment production company, Richard Rosenzweig (“The House Bunny”) and Peter Jaysen (“Fahrenheit 451”) signed on as executive producers, according to the Internet Movie Database. The website IMDb also listed Leto as the star.

Warner Bros. separately on Wednesday said it was reviewing its film financing deal with Ratner and his company. Ratner has produced such films as “Rush Hour,” “The Revenant” and the hit Fox television show “Prison Break.”

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Hefner, who built an entertainment empire from his Playboy magazine, died in late September at the age of 91. He was celebrated as a visionary and a cultural icon, but his death also prompted debates about Playboy’s presentation of women as little more than sex objects.

meg.james@latimes.com

@MegJamesLAT


UPDATES:

2:10 p.m. This article was updated to include a statement by Jared Leto’s representative.

This article was originally published at 1:45 p.m.


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