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Interview: Playboy's Miss January Eats at Philippe's

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"When it turns midnight on New Year's Eve, it will be the best night ever," says Anna Sophia Berglund. "I'll be like, 'My month is here!'"

It's true: the next time the clock strikes twelve, when 2010 morphs into 2011, the Playmate of the Month title will peacefully transfer, as it has for over 50 years, from Miss December to the 24-year-old Palos Verdes Peninsula High School grad for a constitutional term of 31 days. And she plans to appreciate each one.

Joining the Playmates of the Month pantheon--whose ranks include Jayne Mansfield, Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, and Shannon Tweed--is "really a huge honor," an excited Berglund told when we caught up with her this week. In her home town of San Pedro, especially, she notes, "people have been so cool and supportive. Nobody's said anything negative at all. And the issues in the stores there are already sold out!"

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Also adding to the giddiness of Berglund's holiday season was the Christmas Eve Twitter announcement by Playboy titan Hugh Hefner that he had just gotten engaged to her closest friend, Crystal Harris (Miss December 2009).

"I'd actually known about it for a month," Berglund acknowledges. "It was so difficult keeping the news a secret when I've been doing all these interviews." On the question of whether, or for how long, Harris herself had known the news before it broke, Berglund prefers to remain tellingly coy.

Hanging out with Harris and Hef, Berglund often gets an advance look at the photos that are going to be in each issue of Playboy. And this past summer, when Hef casually showed her the series of Playmate of the Month pictures that had been selected for the upcoming January issue, a surprised Berglund immediately recognized them as her own, from a shoot she'd done a couple of months earlier.

Berglund first passed through the gates of the Playboy Mansion when she snagged an invitation to an event being held on the grounds through MySpace. While she was there, someone suggested she submit some photos to get invited to one of Hef's own legendary house parties. And a few weeks later, she got the phone call to come over to dinner with Hef and the girls.

Growing up in San Pedro, the city of LA always seemed far away to Berglund. But now that she's here, she loves it--especially Downtown. "My favorite restaurant is probably the Pacific Dining Car. It's so classic, and it's open 24 hours. And Pete's Cafe, which is also open really late. And Philippe's." Philippe's? Do other people from the Mansion also eat at Philippe's? "I'm sure most of them have never even heard of it," she cheerily suggests.

Berglund has studied acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and is about to shoot her first independent film. She's still in the market for an agent.