Emmy winning producer Michael Mannheim ("Roe vs. Wade") and Tony-nominated screenwriter Janus Cercone ("Leap of Faith") sort of fell backwards into developing high-end properties. At first the real estate obsessed couple enthusiastically re-imagined numerous homes for themselves but eventually, in 2003, they turned their increasingly full-time avocation in to a bone fide profession. Through Jaman Properties, with investment backing from a consortium of Tinseltown insiders whom they politely declined to identify, the couple have extensively re-worked or built from the ground up eight multi-million dollar homes in some of L.A.'s most hoity-toity zip codes. Typically sold in under-the-radar off-market deals, a fair number of their former homes and projects have been acquired by showbiz movers and shakers who include Mary Parent, Matt Groening, Marcy Carsey, and Conan O'Brien who, in early 2008, bought a brand-new, nonchalantly luxurious six-bedroom Brentwood mansion in a hush-hush down-low deal for $10.75 million.
Whether making movies or designing high-end homes Mannheim and Cercone are natural born storytellers who say they conceptualize their projects around a carefully defined fictionalized character. For their latest project — a plum Pacific Palisades property owned for 25 years by Nancy and Ronald Reagan, who lived in the home at the time he was elected president in 1980 — the couple imagined the buyer would, among other things, be a quietly confident individual who enjoys trophy cars, gourmet cooking and large-scale entertaining.
Although radically transformed from a low-slung mid-century modern in to a stately five-bedroom and 8.5-bathroom Spanish revival with crisp, modern interiors, the home preserves symbolic traces of the former owners. A living room bar where Reagan mixed drinks for world leaders was meticulously restored and updated with ice maker and wine fridge and the original shower door in the master bathroom, where Reagan was when he got Jimmy Carter's concession call, mounted as a commemorative art piece in the library. The souped-up kitchen features a hand-made Italian range that Cercone cheekily described as "so expensive you'd want to be buried in it," and car enthusiasts will appreciate the detached, man-cave-y "show garage" complete with dual-spigot beer Kegerator. The elevator-equipped abode sports a slew of high-tech amenities and creature comforts that include a comprehensive home automation system, a climate controlled 2,000-bottle wine room, and a cashmere-lined screening room with state-of-the-art projection system. Other notable features include a powder room with walls covered in 25,000 individually hand-applied peacock feathers, a one-bed/one-bath guesthouse with mini-kitchen, and a monumental, 125-foot heated veranda with fireplace and spine straightening 270-degree views that sweep over Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory to the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.
As is Jaman's modus operandi, the property won't be listed on the open market but is represented by Kurt Rappaport at Westside Estate Agency with an asking price of $33 million.