Wasserman Mansion Redone by Grandson: Wasserman Media Group owner Casey Wasserman is razing and renovating at least part of one of L.A.'s most storied Modernist houses: the residence of his late grandparents, Lew and Edie Wasserman. Since receiving a demolition permit Feb. 21 for the glass-walled, Hal Levitt-designed Beverly Hills house and guesthouse located on Foothill Road, Wasserman has begun a transformation overseen by architect Michael Palladino, a partner at Richard Meier's firm who built the new $115.6 million Edie and Lew Wasserman Building at UCLA Medical Center. Lew Wasserman, the former head of MCA/Universal, hosted A-listers such as Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch and Tom Cruise at his 7,000-square-foot house, a key seat of industry power built in 1956. (Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen famously paid a visit in 1994, seeking his blessing to start DreamWorks.) His wife transferred the title for the property to their grandson in 2006, five years before her death. Casey Wasserman's spokesperson declined comment.
E!'s New Look
When E! Entertainment decided to rebrand its image, it hired veteran stylist Deborah Waknin (Halle Berry, Sofia Vergara, Sandra Bullock) to facilitate new looks for E!'s female cast and hosts and New York-based stylist Christian Choy for the men. A three-day shoot ensued for new print ads and video for all on-air personalities. "We're taking it to that sleek, edgy, cool Terry Richardson vibe," Waknin, who ranks No. 9 on THR's 25 Most Powerful Stylists list, tells us. And yes, Kim Kardashian is part of the intended redo that's meant to debut before summer -- though we hear she isn't taking to a new look all that well.
Although Reese Witherspoon's manager Evelyn O'Neill calls it "all very amicable," people are wondering why the actress suddenly upped and left longtime PR woman and friend Nanci Ryder. But the star -- who hasn't had a certifiable hit since 2008's Four Christmases and whose "sexier" image from Water for Elephants and This Means War wasn't all that convincing -- is in all likelihood looking for a little bit of a reinvention. Despite the gaggle of PR people we've heard are pounding at Witherspoon's door, there apparently is no big rush to procure a new mouthpiece. "People are very respectful of their long and successful relationship," says O'Neill of Witherspoon and Ryder. Meanwhile, Witherspoon has yet to confirm her very apparent pregnancy, which was first reported March 21. Ryder declined comment.
Gary Ross: Matinee Idol
Big directors have a habit of sneaking into L.A. debut showings of their movies to check out audience reaction. But The Hunger Games writer-director Gary Ross can't fly below the radar anymore. Just before the midnight sneak peek Cinerama Dome showing March 23, he was greeted in the ArcLight lobby like a star, flocked by autograph-seeking acolytes. Security even had to keep clamoring young fans away. When Ross strode into the theater to give a surprise intro of the film, he didn't need to say, "Hi, I'm Gary Ross" -- because the crowd was already in an uproar.
Groundlings Get a Face-Lift
It has been 16 years since the Groundlings theater on Melrose Avenue had any kind of renovation -- and this being Hollywood, it was long overdue. Now, $94,500 has been raised for necessary new chairs and a stage: The Descendants Oscar-winning screenwriter Jim Rash pulled props and costumes from Community for one Groundlings benefit March 6; a second on March 24 featured 12 shows in 12 hours on one day. But the most cash was raised by selling plaques for the chairs to celeb graduates such as Lisa Kudrow, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. "When cockroaches steal your laughs and things fall on your head, it's time to redo the theater," Groundlings member Tim Brennen tells THR.
New Player, Same Club
Harry Morton -- son of Hard Rock founder Peter Morton -- soon will open the second outpost of his Mexican restaurant Pink Taco at 8225 Sunset Blvd. During the renovation of the property, which has been Miyagi's, the Roxbury and Imperial Gardens, Morton, 30, peeled back enough layers to discover traces of the site's original hotspot: Preston Sturges' Players Club. Run from 1940 to 1953, the multilevel supper club, frequented by Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles and Howard Hughes, was a nexus of the Hollywood scene. Morton (who also owns the nearby Viper Room) dug out the entrance to the Players' legendary VIP tryst tunnel -- which connected to the adjacent Chateau Marmont and has long since been sealed by the city -- as well as a hydraulic revolving circular band stage buried beneath the dance floor that he hopes to restore in a later phase of the project. "When I first got into this place, it had years of shit piled on top," says Morton. "But when I stripped it all down, incredible things came to light."
Who hasn't been to Ago lately? Chelsea Handler, Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson, Mel Brooks and Donna Summer have each popped in. Two-tops included songwriter Diane Warren and Heather Graham, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and casting director Sheila Jaffe, and Simon Pegg and Dave Grohl. … CBS chief Les Moonves, Mickey Rourke and Lionel Richie were each seated at the Polo Lounge one day, while billionaire investor Nicolas Berggruen, Hollywood philanthropy consultant Kate Moulene and producer Steve Tisch were in on another day. … On March 22, Modern Family creator Steve Levitan tweeted about a poor dining experience ("If you want to be treated like crap, go to Katsuya in Brentwood. Never again for me") before finding a better option down the street (a few hours later he typed: "Thank you, Osteria Latini. Delicious food and GREAT service"); on the other hand, Rob Reiner apparently enjoyed himself at the Katsuya in Hollywood a few nights earlier. … At Ammo, all at different tables: Eli Roth, Bradley Whitford, Project Runway producer Jane Cha Cutler and Shine honcho Carolyn Bernstein. … At Chaya Brasserie Beverly Hills, Zoe Saldana tucked into a chopped salad and sushi rolls. … At Jar on March 21, director James McTeigue dined with Andy and Lana Wachowski as L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sat with a few guests nearby. … Larry David on his own at FarmShop in Brentwood, reading The Angry Buddhist. … Emma Roberts, Mena Suvari, Kate Mara and Busy Phillips at a Whist ladies' lunch. … Martha Stewart ordered the crudo at Culina. … Fox's Jim Gianopulos took a seat at Mr. C. … Cameron Diaz enjoyed the chickpea pancake at Cooks County. … AFI Fest director Jacqueline Lyanga went French at La Poubelle Bistro.