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Merv Griffin Plans Ballroom Overhaul

June 05, 1988|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Merv Griffin--again?

Hardly a day goes by that the talk-show host-turned-producer/entrepreneur isn't in the news, but even with his wheelings and dealings with New York tycoon Donald Trump over Resorts International's Atlantic City and Bahamas hotels, part of Griffin's attention is still on the Beverly Hilton, which he purchased last fall.

Starting Tuesday, the International Ballroom, which he told me he has always "loved," will get an overhaul, though it underwent its last one in the early '80s.

It's being redesigned by Waldo Fernandez, whose client list reads like a Hollywood party--Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, Goldie Hawn, Lionel Richie, Elizabeth Taylor, and--of course--Merv, whose house on 157 acres over Beverly Hills is being built to Fernandez's specs.

Resident Manager Richard Hill described the ballroom as being "early '80s now, with shades of brown and other pre-pastel colors."

At a cost of $4.2 million, Fernandez will install new columns, crystal tiered chandeliers, and colors: taupes, roses and muted mosses and olive greens in the carpet, and a creamy ceiling and walls, which will have panels in a brick pattern. The room also will have a track system for hanging banners, flowers and special lighting.

The ballroom will still seat 1,200 when it re-opens in September, possibly first for the Princess Grace Foundation.

The room is not part of the $35-million face lift started at the 33-year-old hotel, in Beverly Hills, about three years ago. "We're in the final phases of that," Hill explained. "The majority of the (592) guestrooms and public areas are done now."

Bing Crosby lived there, but the most recent owner was Clifford Graham, the San Diego financier who was indicted on 22 counts of income-tax fraud.

There is the 17.21-acre Osuna Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, where the late crooner lived in the '30s. The property will be the subject of a hearing Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Department 1 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Diego.

"It's in escrow," Andy Nelson, president of Willis M. Allen Co. (the real estate firm representing bankruptcy trustee Harold S. Taxel), said, "but there could be an overbid."

An opening bid of $2.65 million in cash has been made, but an initial overbid of $50,000 and subsequent bids in increments of at least $25,000 may be accepted. The property was listed with Willis Allen in February, 1987, at $3.9 million.

The Writers Guild of America strike was still quieting many Hollywood back lots last week, but Raleigh Studios was booming with activity--much of it from the making of TV commercials but a great deal of it also from construction on a restoration/expansion project started about six years ago.

When we last reported on the project a year ago, it was costing about $25 million, but last week, Tom McGovern, the studio's vice president, estimated it at $35 million, "with new equipment," and he expects "everything to be done" by early 1989.

In the meantime, he and Fred Jordan, the studio's president, are admiring a long tube of neon that changes colors. "Bands of this neon will help tie the property together," McGovern said. Neon will be used on buildings facing Melrose Avenue, including a four-story office complex with dressing rooms just taking shape on the studio's block and a design center being built for the studio on the other side of Van Ness Avenue. A parking structure is expected to be completed by July 1.

Parts of Raleigh Studios date back to 1915, even before Douglas Fairbanks made the "Mark of Zorro" and "The Three Musketeers" there.

While President Reagan was in the Soviet Union last week, so was San Francisco socialite Pat Montandon, who is also founder of Children as the Peacemakers Foundation.

And while Montandon was in the U.S.S.R., there was an announcement that her $4.9-million penthouse on (where else?) Russian Hill will be auctioned June 25 at the San Francisco Hilton, with some of the proceeds going to the Peacemakers Foundation.

The penthouse will be the most expensive of 60 mostly California properties to be sold by the Miami-based Auction Co. of America. Margie Crowe, head of the auction division of Merrill Lynch Realty in San Francisco, is handling the auction.

In case you missed it . . . I've heard some pretty big numbers when it comes to residential real estate this past year, but this is the biggest! It's on an L.A. billboard that was brought to my attention by a passing motorist. The billboard reads: "Home Savings: the only home in California worth $36 billion!"

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