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PEOPLE: Hugh Hefner offers to take Playboy private

Hugh Hefner offers to take Playboy private

CHICAGO -- Hugh Hefner's offer to take Playboy Enterprises Inc. private drew the promise of a competing bid on Monday from the owner of archrival Penthouse magazine. That raises the possibility that Playboy's 84-year-old founder could lose control of the men's magazine he started more than half a century ago.

Playboy said Monday that Hefner has lined up backing from a little-known private equity firm to buy the shares of the media empire that he doesn't already own and take the company private in a deal that values the organization at $185 million.

A few hours later, Marc Bell, the CEO of Penthouse owner FriendFinder, said his company will make a formal bid soon.

Playboy, which Hefner launched in 1953, had its most popular years in the 1970s and has been struggling recently to stay profitable.

Polanski free, Swiss reject extradition

BERN, Switzerland -- Roman Polanski was declared a free man on Monday after Switzerland rejected a U.S. request to extradite him to be sentenced for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

The Swiss government blamed the decision on U.S. authorities, saying they had failed to address defense arguments that the 76-year-old filmmaker had actually served his sentence before fleeing Los Angeles three decades ago.

New Gibson tape mentions hitting girlfriend

NEW YORK -- Mel Gibson is heard allegedly acknowledging that the actor hit the mother of his 8-month daughter in a recording released by a celebrity news website.

The recording posted Monday by RadarOnline.com is purportedly a phone argument between Gibson and then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. A voice sounding distinctively like the Academy Award-winner is heard telling Grigorieva that she ''deserved'' to be hit after she chastised him for allegedly punching her in the face.