Inside L.A.'s Best-Designed $2 Million Screening Room

Home Theaters Interior - H 2013
Courtesy of LACMA

Home Theaters Interior - H 2013

With LACMA and the Guggenheim set to open exhibits of the work of James Turrell, an industry veteran reveals how the living legend created his one-of-a-kind Brentwood home theater: "There was no way I was going to make my friends watch the movies on stone benches."

This story first appeared in the May 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

James Turrell, the renowned Light and Space artist whose career-spanning retrospective opens May 26 at LACMA, is best known for his signature "skyspace" works: enclosed spaces with ceiling apertures specially cut and lit to accentuate the heavens, particularly at sunrise and sunset. He has constructed 82 of them, from Australia to England, on private estates and at public institutions. But only one, situated fittingly in L.A., serves a dual function as a screening room.

The estimated $2 million, 12-seat theater, known as Picture Plane, was built in 2004 by noted contemporary collector Jarl Mohn, founding CEO of E! and now a venture investor, for the residence he shares with wife Pamela in a Brentwood enclave where neighbors include Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen. "I was retiring and was concerned about losing my relevancy, about being out of the game," says Mohn, who sits on the boards of comScore and Scripps Networks Interactive. "I wanted this room to be the centerpiece of my social life, and that's exactly what it's become."

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Only one thing deterred him: Turrell's fondness for minimalist stone seats in his skyspaces. "There was no way I was going to make my friends watch the movies on stone benches," says Mohn, who has updated his 35 mm projection system to digital and 3D. "I told Turrell that." The 70-year-old artist and longtime aviator -- who also has exhibits opening in June at the Guggenheim and The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston -- designed a stylish solution: love seats modeled on the chairs in DC-3s.

Invitations have become coveted to the couple's series of film showings every winter during screener season. "We call it MohnDance," says Mohn. The screenings are preceded by Picture Plane's sunset program, a slowly transitioning kaleidoscopic sequence of soft- colored lights that makes the sky, as seen through the aperture, appear to dramatically shift hues.

"It's just too weird, too beautiful -- totally transformative," says top music attorney Eric Greenspan, a regular visitor. "It changes the way you look at the world. It's not magic, but it might as well be."


The Architect for Whom Jennifer Aniston Fell

On May 25, head to Westwood's Hammer Museum for a photo-and-drawings show of the work of the late architect A. Quincy Jones. In 2012, Jennifer Aniston spent $22 million for a midcentury house by the master of indoor-outdoor living, who also designed Walter Annenberg's famed Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and Holmby Hills' Brody House (above), which sold for nearly $15 million in 2010.