NEW YORK – Bachelor, schmachelor.
Hugh Hefner, the world's most famous 76-year-old single guy, says just wait until you see his new reality show, Girl Next Door: The Search For a Playboy Centerfold.
"When they talk about some shows like The Bachelor being reality-based, they're not — but this is," Hefner told The Post.
Girl Next Door (Friday on Fox at 8 p.m.) is a one-time, two-hour special chronicling three weeks of cutthroat competition between 12 girls who were whisked to L.A. for a chance to become the centerfold in the July 2002 issue of Playboy.
Of course, in real life the potential playmates vying for the coveted, uncovered honors usually don't live together for nearly a month with their rivals in a house across the street from the Playboy mansion.
"This is very close to the way it really is, except with the girls living together in a single place you get that additional connection and the impact," Hef says.
If Girl Next Door manages to score a ratings hit in the tough, Friday night time slot, Hefner says he'd like to pick more centerfolds on TV in future.
"This one is near and dear to my heart," he says. "We originally pictured it as a Road Rules and Real World episodic miniseries that ran for about eight episodes. I think that's the ideal form for this show, so this is kind of a pilot".
Hef's penchant for The Real World helped land the show's producers, Bunim-Murray, which began filming last February on Valentine's Day and wrapped a few weeks later.
"When the reality concept became popular, the notion of putting a bunch of potential playmates in a playmate house and having cameras everywhere and going through the process of finding a centerfold was a natural," he says.
Out of thousands of wannabe Playmates who turned out for auditions in cities across the U.S. only 25 made it to Los Angeles where Hef narrowed the group to just 12.
"There's drama," Hefner says. "And I had not anticipated this, in that it was hard to pick the winner when you know that others are not going to be winners."
Hefner, no stranger to television — he once hosted a the famous Playboy network show Playboy's Penthouse in 1959 — says Girl Next Door was an idea he'd been kicking around for years. But it took a Fox executive who just happened to be the son of Hefner's former squeeze , '60s Playboy covergirl/cartoon editor Cynthia Maddox, to get it made.
"I think its going to be very popular with both women and men," he said.
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