Where do movie reviewers and Hollywood insiders view the latest films? Some wait in Westwood's lines with the rest of us. Others pop a cassette into a VCR and watch while thumbing through Daily Variety. These options, however, can't compare to that Jack Warner-era luxury, the in-house screening room.
This is longtime Hollywood reporter Rona Barrett's elegant private screening room. "It's absolutely essential to what I do," Barrett says. "I use it regularly. And although I love to have friends in to watch a movie with me, I'm most often here alone, seriously screening something for a review.
"It's also important for me to go to public theaters to absorb audience reaction. But, on a day-to-day basis, my private theater is indispensable."
This room, which can accommodate 24 people, is the work of interior designer Steve Chase and architect Hal Levitt. Located on the lower level of Barrett's house, it's reached by a curving staircase that winds down to a rounded alcove. Mimicking the lobby of a movie theater, the alcove is lined with George Hurrell photographs, and it is adjoined by a full bar.
The alcove opens onto the large screening room, the walls of which have been cushioned (for aesthetic and acoustic reasons) with gray flannel. Seating is provided by sofas, chairs and chaises. The stark-white screen can be hidden behind a series of sliding gray latticework panels when not in use.
"We did not want this large room to work merely as a theater. It functions more like a lounge and entertainment center," Chase says. "Ms. Barrett and I have worked together before, and she appreciates what it takes to achieve such a customized environment. This room is highly functional and yet it has real Hollywood glamour."