Bradley Bayou’s Weekend Beach Getaway: Not Malibu, but Marina Peninsula?
When the interior designer and WME partner Mark Iktin head for the beach, they prefer their serene penthouse on the Marina Peninsula, a place TMZ's Harvey Levin and former William Morris CEO Walt Zifkin also are making popular.
Blame it on TMZ founder Harvey Levin. When interior designer Bradley Bayou and William Morris Endeavor partner Mark Itkin started looking for beach property eight years ago, they had no idea the search would land them on the Marina Peninsula. But gossip mogul Levin, who recently built a three-story contemporary oceanfront there, already had taken up residence on this low-profile sand strip below the Venice Pier, adjacent to Marina del Rey. "Harvey and his partner [chiropractor Dr. Andy Maurer] are friends of ours, so we'd come down and hang out with them here," says Itkin, 62, who, as the head of unscripted television at WME, represents Jerry Springer and Jesse Ventura and has helped create such shows as Big Brother, Project Runway and this summer's surprise hit, ABC's Celebrity Family Feud. Between the beachfront view of sailboats cruising in and out of the Marina channel and the chill vibe, the couple, who have been together for 21 years, became convinced of the locale's charms; it also didn't hurt that "the former CEO of William Morris, Walt Zifkin, lives about two blocks up," says Itkin.
Two years ago, the agent and the decorator walked into this two-story penthouse condo and immediately were wowed by the unobstructed ocean view. "It was exactly what we were looking for," says Bayou, 59. And with the 1,200-square-foot condo, built in 1971, framing the views of sea and sky while sliding glass doors lure in ocean breezes, "You don't need air-conditioning."
The decorator, who launched his L.A.-based company, Bradley Bayou Development + Design, in 2012, has designed the New York offices of WME. He also decorated the main residence he shares with Itkin in the hills above West Hollywood, as well as a collection of properties including a house in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood in Palm Springs "built by Bob Hope for one of his mistresses," says Bayou. "Then Tina Louise had it, then Barry Manilow. By the time I got it, it was a mess."
By contrast, the Venice place was an easy six-month redo. Using a high-low mix of midcentury and new pieces — a style he calls "world modern" — Bayou opted for sand tones downstairs "so your eye just extends out" to the beach, with grass-cloth wallpaper in the sitting room, earth-toned couches from Environment and a rug made of cowhide strips by Calvin Klein. To reflect the sea colors, he painted the walls a pale green-gray, stained the upstairs bamboo floors with a hint of blue-green and covered the bare fireplace wall with gray-green Ann Sacks tile. A prized coffee-table book about Pacific Ocean Park — the nautical-themed amusement park that opened in 1958 and rivaled Disneyland in popularity before being razed in 1974 — sits on the circular glass table in the living room, a fond memento of Itkin's L.A. childhood. Bayou added large-scale drama to rooms with an array of well-placed art — photographs by Alex Prager, a spray-paint and stencil piece by Japanese artist Gajin Fujita and an abstract canvas by L.A. painter Ed Moses, whose work has been collected by the late Michael King, The Oprah Winfrey Show creator, among others. For Itkin's part, he says of Bayou's choices, "I totally trust him."
The two industry veterans try to find two weekends a month to hide out, preferring the proximity and relative privacy of the Marina area to the buzzier Malibu social scene. "Going to a party [there] is more of a job than a pleasure," says Itkin. With the Marina Peninsula an easy escape — 30 minutes from their main West Hollywood residence and the WME offices in Beverly Hills — they feel little compunction to leave the condo, except to walk their English bulldog, George. "The secret [to being] here is we don't do anything," says Bayou.
Their chef will leave them meals, or they'll drop by a local joint, opting for The Firehouse and Morfia's Ribs & Pies over foodie haunts like Gjelina or The Tasting Kitchen. Good Day L.A.'s Steve Edwards lives downstairs, but they rarely see him. They haven't even felt the need to fill their master closet with clothes. "We can pack for the weekend in five minutes," says Bayou, adding, "We'll spend 90 percent of our time sitting on the daybed reading with George between us."
Not that productivity doesn't rear its head while relaxing. It was on that daybed that Itkin (who recently signed '70s music producers Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell on to a Jersey Boys-style jukebox musical) hatched his latest idea while reading a magazine story about Mark Wahlberg attending church every day.
"The guys who syndicate the old series Highway to Heaven are friends, and they came to me and said, 'Do you think you could sell a new version of the show?' I realized we represent Mark, who has a big production company. So I call Ari Emanuel, who represents him, and he says, 'It's a great idea.' We called Steve Levinson, his producing partner, and they loved it." (Itkin also is excited about a movie he has sold to Sony based on a nonfiction book about Brownie Wise, the driving force behind Tupperware; David Hoberman is producing from a script by Tate Taylor, and Sandra Bullock has agreed to star.)
While Itkin grew up in the San Fernando Valley, Bradley Bayoud (the original spelling of his family name) grew up the son of a Lebanese surgeon in Dallas, eventually becoming one-half of a high-flying real estate firm, Bayoud & Bayoud. His partner was his then-wife, Norma "Twinkle" Underwood, whose father was part owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Together, Bradley and Twinkle had two daughters and landed on the cover of Texas Monthly in 1986. "We were socialites," he says. "It was the height of Dallas, and we were the young couple everybody wanted to know. I met Andy Warhol at a dinner party, and we became best friends. [It was like] we were playing this game, going, 'Can you believe this?'"
Ultimately, the game was not for him. At 30, he left his wife, his work and his lifestyle and moved to L.A. "I went from butlers and nannies to living in a hovel," says the designer. But he rediscovered art and created a line of $400 hand-painted vests for men that sold out at Fred Segal and Neiman Marcus. Soon, he was asked to design a women's eveningwear line for Neiman.
As Bradley Bayou, he had a window on Robertson Boulevard, where Geena Davis spotted his work and chose him to design a satiny pink ball gown with a corseted waist for her to wear as host of an Oscar preshow televised in 1999; Halle Berry and Salma Hayek then came calling for him to dress them. That same year, Bayou was hired as head designer for Halston, where he designed for Eva Longoria, Keira Knightley, Beyonce, Anne Hathaway and Kerry Washington. Oprah Winfrey's assistant called, asking him to create a dress for Winfrey to wear to the Oscars. They wouldn't tell him what dress size — just her bra size and height. He made her a fanciful yellow princess gown, but she wound up skipping the awards show altogether. Bayou was crushed. Months later, she wore his dress to the Emmys to accept the first Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002, and the dress made headlines. Despite his success, he switched careers: "I always had interior design in my heart."
Today, Bayou is close with his daughters, Alexis, 36, and Natalie, 34 (married to ICM's Doug Johnson), and his three grandchildren. "My kids want us to get married," says the designer, who admits they haven't ruled out a wedding, adding: "We're kind of married — like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. I'm Kurt." Jokes Itkin, "You wish."