LOS ANGELES — It might have been another legendary party at the Playboy Mansion, except Hugh Hefner didn't make an appearance.
The Playboy founder was a no-show Tuesday night at a celebration of the new Amazon series about his life, "American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story." His youngest son, 25-year-old Cooper Hefner, who became Playboy's chief creative officer last year, hosted the mansion party to screen an episode from the 10-part series, premiering Friday.
"He will kill me if I print or if you say anything about him retiring," the younger Hefner said of his father. "But I think he is really enjoying his life as a 90-year-old at the mansion."
"Hef" turns 91 on Sunday, and he'll celebrate as he has for decades, his son said: with a screening of "Casablanca" in his home theatre with his guests dressed in 1940s attire.
Cooper Hefner said his father is doing "great" ("His back is bad — that comes along with aging") and remains editor in chief of Playboy magazine. The magazine, though, isn't the future of Playboy. The younger Hefner is "not a part of the publishing generation."
"I see the magazine's role as shifting as really we've already done, which is positioning it as being the flagship of the brand, the brand bible," he said. "Understanding it's responsible for the reason this all exists, but recognizing we're going to be able to reach a whole lot more people with our 44 million social media audience or the monthly uniques we get on dot-com. So it's just a shift in strategy."
The magazine is no longer printed monthly.
"American Playboy" aims to reach a younger audience with its retro appeal. Combining archival footage with re-enacted segments, the series tracks Playboy magazine's origins in the 1950s and the changing socio-political climate that fueled its growth through the '60s and '70s.
"If you think about millennials in general, which is the generation I belong to, there is an absolute fascination with yesteryear," Hefner said.
He also sees parallels between the political issues of his father's era and his own — discrimination and civil rights, for example — and is inspired to use Playboy as a platform for discussion, as his father did.
"I think as we redefine what it means to be a liberal and a conservative and try to explore that, that Playboy really has an editorial duty, as it did for 63 years, to step up to the forefront and participate in that conversation," Hefner said.
One Playboy tradition the younger Hefner may not be able to maintain is hosting parties at his father's storied Holmby Hills estate: the Playboy Mansion was sold over the summer for $100 million.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy.
Sandy Cohen, The Associated Press