No Shanghai Nights for the Playboy Bunny

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, June 15, 2006

So you want to open a Playboy Club in China. What do you do? Hire a lobbyist, of course.

Michael Nussbaum, a New York Democratic politico and business executive, is head of Shanghai Entertainment Ltd., an American company that had a license agreement with Playboy Enterprises to open the Playboy Club Shanghai, featuring restaurants, a spa and a "Bunny Bar" last year.

Chinese officials, however, eventually shot down the plans. The venture "wasn't successful for a variety of reasons" and Beijing "paused the deal," said Michael Dana Tobman , a New York Democratic consultant and lobbyist hired by Nussbaum.

Tobman, a former aide to Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), registered with Congress this spring on behalf of Shanghai Entertainment and its continued plans to develop nightclubs in China.

Tobman said he was retained before the April visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to make some calls on the Hill and see if there were any talks planned that could be of interest to Nussbaum.

Nussbaum still wants to build clubs in China; they just won't be Playboy Clubs, Tobman said, noting that Shanghai already has an active nightlife.

Tobman says he's not doing any substantive lobbying for Shanghai Entertainment, but instead has been calling around the Hill to collect nice words said about Nussbaum that might help influence the Chinese.

Chamber Chief Not Sweating Surgery

There's been some chatter about U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Thomas J. Donohue facing heart surgery and what that might mean to the business lobby that he's rejuvenated since joining in 1997. But Donohue, 67, assures us that he's basically in good shape and the chamber's doing fine.

He will be having a heart valve replacement next month. He's had a leaky valve for years and decided this is the time to do something about it: Summer is a slow time for the chamber.

"A smart guy says do it now and stay healthy," Donohue said yesterday.

He may be out for four to six weeks. He definitely feels he's going to be in shape for the fall elections. Under Donohue, the chamber has gotten increasingly active in politics on behalf of business-leaning candidates and judges.

In his absence, Suzanne Clark , the chief operating officer, will be in charge.

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