Richard Verstegan 5 a.m., March 12
Papa Doug Manchester buys Playboy Enterprises for $400 million
Papa Doug: "Hugh who?"
Local mogul indulges fondness for failing print media properties, also promises string of Playboy hotels nationwide.
"I showed up too late to bid for the Boston Globe," says Doug Manchester, smiling ruefully. "But that's only because I was up all night partying with Hef and the crew. Well, actually, Hef went to bed at 9:30 sharp, the poor old codger. Me, I still had some celebrating to do."
Manchester, whose U-T San Diego newspaper has been doggedly dogging Mayor Bob Filner over his sexual improprieties, was celebrating the acquisition of Hefner's sex-based empire, Playboy Enterprises, for a reported $400 million. "Playboy, like U-T San Diego, has seen a decline in recent years," grants Manchester. "But they remain recognizable, viable brands. I'm already leveraging UT-TV; just imagine what I can do once I start slapping bunny heads on my hotels. People already use my properties for all sorts of sexual hijinks; I figure it's time to start monetizing that."
Manchester, recently divorced after 40 years of marriage, was quick to assure SD on the QT that there would be continuity at the top despite the change of ownership. "Remember Hef at 70? The man was dating seven girls at the same time! I'm definitely looking forward to getting the keys to the mansion."
Asked about his feelings upon selling the landmark media empire he built, Hefner looked off into the distance, lolled his head to the right, and asked for soup.