Guccione TV Series a 'Surprise' to Penthouse Owner

Guccione TV Series a 'Surprise' to Penthouse Owner
Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — A new scripted TV series about the life of Penthouse Magazine founder Bob Guccione and the many women in his life has been announced by Jerrick Media Holdings and Maven Pictures.

Currently in development, the TV series will trace Guccione's steps through 30 years, through his humble beginnings as a struggling artist and cartoonist in London in the 1950s to the successful launch of Penthouse and the media empire that resulted.

“The plan is to do it on cable, Amazon, Netflix or somewhere where we can do it uncensored,” Jerrick Media co-founder Rick Schwartz told Variety in a story that posted last week.

Jerrick Media’s announcement for a planned TV series about Guccione caught Kelly Holland, who purchased Penthouse and its related properties in February 2016, off guard.

Holland told XBIZ that she wasn’t tipped off over such a TV series involving Penthouse’s early days and apparently was concerned over the misuse of her intellectual property holdings.

“As the owner of Penthouse and all of its intellectual property, including the intellectual property connected to the trademarks Penthouse, Penthouse Pets and all rights associated to Bob Guccione's ‘Caligula,’ I was surprised to read an ‘exclusive’ story in Variety detailing a series on Bob Guccione and Penthouse,”Holland said.

Legal attempts to shut down production of the movie, however, might not be an option.

Industry attorney Mark Randazza of Randazza Legal Group said that it might not be the case that the Penthouse trademarks can’t be used in the movie.

“Nominative fair use would allow Jerrick Media and Maven Pictures to use the marks in a nominative way,” Randazza told XBIZ. “They, of course, can’t suggest that Penthouse or Guccione endorsed or sponsored the film, but they can talk about it.”

Jerrick Media, a public company that described itself as a “nimble, opportunistic publishing house,” runs a string of pop-culture websites, including the edgy, porny Filthy.media. It also produces the webisodes "Baked" and "Marijuana Minute."

Several years ago, Jerrick Media filmed a Guccione documentary called “Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story.” The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and is available online here.

Material used for the Guccione documentary came largely from Jerrick Media itself.

Shortly after Guccione’s death in 2010, Jerrick Media CEO Jeremy Frommer discovered much of Guccione’s art collection and collectibles in a storage locker.

For three years, Jerrick Media expanded its Guccione’s photography and personal and corporate ephemera.

Last year, however, Jerrick Media started auctioning off its vast Guccione collection after seeing “significant value of this library in the marketplace” and moving on to an alternative monetization strategy.

In a regulatory filing made Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jerrick Media said it plans on holding onto some of the intellectual property rights of the Guccione material as well as selling it.

“In addition to selling the physical items through this auction process, tens of thousands of images are being scanned for the company’s digital intellectual property library including videos, rare celebrity photos, vintage sci-fi and the thousands of Guccione published images from the early first decades of Penthouse Magazine,” Jerrick Media posted in an 8-K filing.

For its upcoming TV series, Jerrick Media said in the filing that it is contributing “access and use of its Guccione library,” as well as its experiences as executive producers. 

“Jerrick will receive revenue from a production fee, a percentage revenue-share and rights to the series post debut,” the company said.

Jerrick Media’s Schwartz did not respond for XBIZ comment on the company's involvement in the movie.

Pictured: Bob Guccione

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