Entertainment figures Michael Manheim and Janus Cercone developed the Brentwood home that went to the late-night host.

By Ruth Ryon, Chicago Sun-Times • Photos by Lee Manning • March 2, 2008

TV and movie producer Michael Manheim and his wife, Janus Cercone -- who is writing the script for a musical adaptation of her 1992 movie, "Leap of Faith" -- designed and developed the Brentwood compound purchased in January by talk show host Conan O'Brien, featured in the Hot Property column on Jan. 20.

Apparently, the couple didn't build the house with O'Brien in mind. There was a full-scale bidding war, and it sold for more than its $10.5-million asking price.

Manheim and Cercone often view as many as 200 properties before buying, because they contend that the most important decision in designing and building is choosing a property. They have built nine homes.

The one O'Brien bought has a two-story living room with 20-foot, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking 60-year-old trees, a stacked-stone water wall and a pool pavilion with a kitchen, fireplace and 50-inch flat screen. There is a lantern-lighted, 60-foot veranda overlooking the backyard, a wood-paneled library that adjoins a 1,500-bottle wine room, a screening room, a steam room, a sauna and, outside, a hidden deluge shower that hangs from a 20- foot-high tree limb, and a gated entry lighted by gas lanterns.

Cercone wrote the original screenplay for "Leap of Faith," the tale of a fast-talking religious pitchman that starred Steve Martin and Debra Winger.