Hollywood Producers Remodel President Reagan'sMid-century California Estate

By Keith Flamer • July 31,2016

Here’s the pitch: Two married Hollywood movie producers flip the script, remodeling their careers and a popular United States president’s home into a potential blockbuster—a nearly $30 million high-stakes restoration deal that’s earning rave design reviews.

Ronald Reagan's former mid-century modern home in Pacific Palisades is listed for $29.7 million.

Sounds like a movie concept, but it’s true Hollywood. Former entertainment executives Michael Manheim and Janus Cercone are gaining notoriety offscreen for their boutique real estate development company (Jaman Properties) which recently renovated President Ronald Reagan’s former mid-century modern home in Pacific Palisades, California. The exquisite Spanish Revival spec residence, a.k.a. “The Riviera White House,” is currently on the market for $29.7 million (down from $33 million).

The home, which rests atop the Santa Monica mountains, is known as The Riviera White House

Based in Malibu, the ex-writing/producing couple specializes in the selection, purchase, design, construction, marketing and sale of couture, single-family residences in Malibu, Bel Air, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades. Jaman transforms residential environments into luxurious spaces designed for “personal growth, connection and sharing” through “food, drink, love or reflection.” The Jaman philosophy: “It’s not enough that a Jaman property has style…it must also have soul.”

The estate's living room, dining room, and kitchen open onto a columned veranda.

Like President Reagan, this modernized estate is highly ambitious—boasting an olive tree-lined veranda; framed Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol art (worth $2 million); a powder room wallpapered in 25,000 peacock feathers; a cashmere fabric-decorated professional screening room; multiple fireplaces (one hand-carved French limestone); custom Danish and Italian chandeliers; an elevator; and a 200-bottle wine room.

This distinctive powder room is wallpapered with 25,000 peacock feathers.

Jaman’s expert team collaborated on the home redesign as if it was a movie production – with Manheim and Cercone as the studio heads. The couple draws from their real estate and entertainment skills to “create emotional, narrative-driven properties” that maximize return on investment.

Terrace view

“The process of making a movie and making a house are incredibly similar,” says Manheim. “In both cases, you start with a character or story, then build a production around that idea—in collaboration with dozens if not hundreds of people, all of whom have their own ideas about how to achieve that intention. In the case of a house, we are the studio so we can control the execution of our vision and create a pure expression of our ideas.”

Husband-wife team Michael Manheim and Janus Cercone are ex-Hollywood executives now telling and selling narratives via real estate development.

Ideas are their game. Manheim is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner who has produced 15 motion pictures, a Tony-nominated Broadway musical, and thirteen high-end residential properties. Cercone is a former A&M Records publicist, singer-songwriter, and screenwriter who penned Steve Martin’s film Leap of Faith as well as its Tony-nominated Broadway musical adaptation.

Cercone and Mannheim collaborated on "Leap of Faith," (starring Steve Martin) which was released as a film and a theatrical musical on Broadway.

Jaman’s clients include comedian Conan O’Brien, The Simpson’s creator Matt Groening, and actresses Virginia Madsen and Fran Drescher. But it’s President Reagan’s former residence that’s winning critical acclaim—58 miles south of his presidential library in Simi Valley.

The home has views of downtown Los Angeles, Catalina Island and the Pacific Ocean

Reagan’s reimagined Pacific Palisades estate at 1669 San Onofre sits atop the Santa Monica mountains overlooking downtown Los Angeles, Catalina Island, and the Pacific Ocean. The main residence (in hand-troweled stucco with red tile roofs) offers six bedrooms, eight-and-three-quarter bathrooms, a veranda, pool, and garages covering 12,000 square feet (on a 28,000-square-foot lot). There’s also a one-bedroom guest house.

The main residence boasts six bedrooms and eight-and-a-quarter bathrooms over 12,000 square feet.

The estate draws inspiration from its history and natural surroundings. Exterior features include hand-forged iron gates; an antique French limestone-fountained entrance; a 300-foot-long hedged driveway; and handmade Bevolo gas lanterns, the type that re-lit New Orleans’s French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina

The home features $2 million worth of Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol Art.

The backyard includes a heated saltwater pool with invisible glass-walled spa, sunbathing area, an exterior kitchen with wrap-around bar, barbecue, a stove, and wood-burning pizza oven.

The backyard includes a heated saltwater pool with invisible glass-walled spa and a sunbathing area.

Interiors showcase a variety of contrasting styles—antique barn timber ceilings, arched steel doors, French oak floors, Waterworks fixtures, Ralph Lauren lighting, and smart technology (inside and outside). The striking layout includes a 24-foot-high entry hall with a skylight and circular staircase, and main living areas opening to the veranda with city and ocean views.

The foyer with a 24-foot-high ceiling, circular staircase and skylight.

“Coming from the movie business, our training is in storytelling, so we began production by spending time on the property, just listening and watching, to discover what stories it had to tell,” says Manheim.

Below, three acts detail how The Riviera White House came together—the ideas, the highlights, the stories..

Act 1: Historic Residence.

Reagan as host of CBS-TV's General Electric Theater.

Reagan family in their "Kitchen of the Future."

Ronald Reagan settled with wife Nancy in the Pacific Palisades home in 1953 as a B-movie actor and host of CBS-TV’s popular General Electric Theater. In 1957, GE transformed Reagan’s new home into a “House of the Future,” furnishing the residence with a “Jetsonian” all-electric kitchen, avant-garde lighting, and a rare built-in movie projector. From here (and through natural political instincts), Reagan ascended to high office as California governor and ultimately president of the United States.

On November 4, 1980, candidate Reagan was taking a shower here when President Jimmy Carter called to concede: “Mr. Reagan? Congratulations. You’re President of The United States.”Reagan learned he’d become the USA’s 40th president while soaking wet. The five-foot-six-inch “funky” shower door remains—installed in the new library bathroom with a commemorative plaque.

Library bathroom plaque commemorating the moment Ronald Reagan learned he was elected president (while in the shower).

Act 2: Purchase & Renovation

The original mid-century design of the Reagan house.

In 2013, Jaman bought the Reagan estate for about $5.2 million which was virtually unchanged since the 1950s. The Riviera White House needed a makeover. Manheim and Cercone salvaged its soul, creating a luxurious, contemporary retreat—a revamped sequel with a complex character, originality, and historical subtext that updated the narrative. They transformed The Riviera White House from a blank page to an epic estate.

Ronald Reagan with Nancy and Ron Jr. in their Pacific Palisades living room.

Upon buying the home, Jaman offered its historical relics to the Smithsonian, GE, and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. When they all passed, Jaman incorporated many elements into the home.

The home combines Spanish Revival with California Contemporary.

“Though it’s a brand new house, we rescued pieces of the original structure that imbue the new home with a sense of history and import that supersedes politics,” says Cercone. “What makes The Riviera White House so special is its contrasts, an overall style we call ‘relaxed formality.’ The design combines traditional Spanish Revival and California Contemporary with spaces that are simultaneously intimate and very grand.”

100-Year-Old Olive Trees
On an 110-degree day, exterior designer Scott Shrader “auditioned” 6,000 olive trees on an abandoned olive oil estate in Corning, California—ultimately choosing nine trees that grow at The Riviera White House

Nine olive trees grace the veranda with views of downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean.

Kitchen Chandelier & Range
The professional grade kitchen (with wood-burning fireplace and antique-beamed ceiling) is highlighted by “Sputnik,” a Fabio Ungaro-designed 1960s chandelier with 32 protruding arms topped with Murano balls. Jaman purchased the Officine Gullo range “sight unseen” via email. It was custom hand-made over six months in Florence, Italy.

Remodeled kitchen with Sputnik, a 1960s Murano crystal chandelier designed by Fabio Ungaro.

Refurbished mid-century knobs.

The Reagan Bar
The living room bar was the centerpiece of the Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s social activities—where they entertained Hollywood friends and decided to run for president amid trusted advisors. Jaman restored this crumbling vestige with refurbished mid-century knobs and light fixtures; and under-counter refrigerator and icemaker upgrades

The Reagan bar adjacent to a 200-bottle wine room.

Screening Room
The updated screening room is lined in 100% cashmere fabric and includes a bar, under-counter refrigerator, drop-down projector, and seating for 12 to 15 guests. The equipment features a 145-inch screening system with 9.2 Dolby surround sound, controlled via an App. There’s also a Lutron Radio Ra2 Lighting control in the theater and Sonos sound system providing sound throughout the property.

The professional screening room seats 15 people and is decked in cashmere fabrics

Dining Room Chandeliers & Fireplace
The formal dining room has an antique hand-carved French fireplace surround and trumeau (rescued from a New York City Fifth Avenue mansion); and a Hilden Diaz chandelier called, “Forms of Nature” crafted from a 3-D printer of extruded plastic.

Contemporary dining room highlighted by Hilden Diaz chandelier and fireplace, whose ornate mantle was restored by master furniture maker Mark White.

The dining room fireplace mantel comes from the Beaux-Arts manse of furniture/rug merchant Henry T. Sloane, whose opulent Manhattan estate was purchased by a Russian oligarch who demolished its once grand interiors. Jaman purchased one of the dilapidated mantels from eBay for $600 and hired master furniture maker Mark White to restore it. After three months, The Riviera White House dining room was furnished with its one-of-a-kind ornate fireplace.

“We fell in love with the work of Hilden Diaz (two Danish artists known for their political installation art) and commissioned this chandelier when the house was still just lines on paper,” says Jaman Properties’ website. “When lit, the light projects shadows on the walls that give the impression of a forest lit by moonlight.”

When lit, the "Forms of Nature" chandelier projects wall shadows that give off impressions of a forest lit by moonlight.

Master Bedroom Suite
The sky-lit master suite measures nearly 2,300 square feet, and includes a private terrace (500 square feet with pergola), his and her dressing rooms, sitting room and fireplace. There are also four additional bedrooms with full en-suite baths, including two bedrooms with private, city view terraces.

Bedroom with wood-burning fireplace and crystal chandelier.

His & Her Dressing Rooms
Dressing rooms boast soaking tubs, steam room, sauna, mirrored cabinetry, and city and ocean views. His (“The Master Black”) has a luggage closet while Her (“The Master White”) includes a 365-pair shoe closet lit with a chandelier crafted from vintage Schiaparelli bonnets.

Master white dressing room.

Master black dressing room

Other inspired features include a one-bedroom guest house with a gym and stationary cycle programmed to replicate the Tour De France; a 2,000-bottle, temperature-controlled wine room; and a show garage for two cars with built-in bar, under-counter beverage center, and dual spigot artisanal beer Kegerator.

The former Reagan estate has a show garage for two cars.

Act 3:

Ronald Reagan's former Riviera White House was redesigned around a narrative of history and contemporary contrasts.

Final Pitch Instead of making a B movie, Manheim and Cercone made a historic house worthy of its pedigree – a new classic made in the image of an actor who became president of the United States.

“As we experienced the awe of what both man and nature had created, we envisioned the moment of Mr. Reagan’s inspiration to pursue a future and purpose larger than himself,” said Cercone. “Every design choice was made with an eye for quality and an open heart, in the hope that The Riviera White House’s new occupants might experience a life filled with a similar sense of inspiration, empowerment, and joy.”

There’s been interest. Even actress Goldie Hawn stopped by to view the home. The new Riviera White House design frames the old Reagan story – creating a new narrative which will surely play a role in the ultimate sale. Good stories always sell – in Hollywood, politics, and real estate, perhaps even at $29.7 million.

Closing credits

Structures and interiors designed by Jaman PropertiesExterior design by Scott ShraderKitchen Design, created in collaboration L.A. Chef Gino Angelini.Full article @ Forbes.com