Mar 14, 2013

HBO Options Movie Based On The Life Of Producer Freddie De Cordova's Wife Janet


HBO Options Movie Based On The Life Of Producer Freddie De Cordova's Wife Janet

published: 2012-05-22 19:29:11
HBO Options Movie Based On The Life Of Producer Freddie De Cordova's Wife Janet image
HBO has picked up the option to one of the more unusual stories to come out of Hollywood’s Golden Age – that of Janet de Cordova, the wife of Jonny Carson’s Tonight Show producer whose Mexican maid winds up the best and only true friend at the end of her life of glitzy parties with A-list celebs.

Once Upon a Time in Beverly Hills is based on a Vanity Fair article that tells the story of de Cordova’s life as the socialite wife of producer Freddie de Cordova. HBO has picked up the option to turn it into a movie, saysDeadline. It’s much more than the tale of another wealthy woman in Beverly Hills. This one tells the story of a socialite’s interesting relationship with her housekeeper, a Mexican woman named Grace Covarrubias.


Janet de Cordova spent her years in Beverly Hills throwing lavish soirees for the biggest names of the area in film, music, and television. Among the names said to have attended her parties are Billy Wilder, Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra and fellow Rat-Packer Dean Martin. Her opulence outdid her income, and she was forced to sell her home upon the death of her husband, leaving her with nothing. With all the friends of her wealthy days gone, she turned to Covarrubias, who is said to have performed many duties beyond the call of a housekeeper, including stirring her drink for her as she walked around. In an ending that is stranger than fiction, de Cordova winds up living in Mexico – in a replica of her home that her housekeeper built with her earnings.

The HBO movie has Matt Tyrnauer, who wrote the original Vanity Fair article on board as the director. He was behind another old-Hollywood based movie – the documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor. John Hoffman will write the script for this unusual – and fascinating – true Hollywood story. 

copied from cinemablend

Laughing Forever...Burns and Allen and COZI TV...

Laughing forever...Burns and Allen and Cozi TV, ME TV and Antenna TV......

There is nothing on television in the night......I've discovered cozi tv.  It's impossible to turn off, it's so interesting...seeing all of those old shows...I barely remember watching Burns and Allen in real time...I do remember it was funny, though, and now I can't stop laughing out loud.

copied from Vanity Fair.....March 2011

Once Upon a Time in Beverly Hills

When Freddie de Cordova, Johnny Carson’s longtime producer, died in 2001, his wife knew her big-caviar days were over. Their mansion would have to go. Then Janet de Cordova did something that shocked le tout Beverly Hills.

STYLISH TO THE END Janet in Mexico in 2009, the year she died, in the home of Gracie Covarrubias, her faithful housekeeper. Portrait by Jonathan Becker.
On March 20, 1990, in the middle of the night, paramedics were called to the de Cordova home at 1875 Carla Ridge Road, in the Trousdale section of Beverly Hills. Freddie de Cordova, the executive producer of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and his wife, Janet, a leading local socialite sometimes referred to as the Duchess of Trousdale, were asleep in their separate bedrooms. The problem was downstairs, in the servants’ quarters, where Gracie Covarrubias, the longtime housekeeper, was trying to revive her husband, Javier, who was dying of a heart attack. When the paramedics arrived, they muted their sirens. Javier was removed on a gurney and driven to Cedars-Sinai hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Early in the morning, Gracie Covarrubias returned to the house, and at eight o’clock Freddie de Cordova appeared at the breakfast table. He began to go through a pile of newspapers and the Hollywood trades, in preparation for his ritual midmorning phone call with Carson, in which they discussed the headlines that might make fodder for Carson’s monologue that night. Gracie fixed de Cordova’s breakfast, then, according to a close friend of the de Cordovas’, “waited until after he ate to approach him, saying, ‘Mr. De, I have something to tell you.’ Freddie asked, ‘What’s that, Gracie?’ She said, ‘Javier is dead.’ Freddie was stunned. He said, ‘Why didn’t you call us?’ Gracie said, ‘I didn’t want to wake you up. I called the police, and I told them not to use their sirens.’ She added, ‘I didn’t want them to wake up my lady.’” Janet de Cordova, a late riser and a heavy user of sleeping pills, was still in bed. Gracie, as usual, took her her breakfast tray at precisely nine o’clock.
“Of course, Janet was very disturbed when she heard Javier had died,” the late Dominick Dunne, a friend of Janet’s, told me. “It got to the point where Gracie, after all those years working for Janet, was very well known to the Beverly Hills set. This is one of those stories where the servants become more than just the help.”
Michelle Phillips, the former Mamas & the Papas singer, who was a protégée of Janet’s, recalls, “Janet kind of freaked out. She kept screaming, ‘Where is he?’ But that was Gracie. She always kept the messy things away from Janet. She wanted everything to be like a flowery sweet bouquet for her. She took on the problems herself and kept Janet’s world running smoothly.”
According to Dunne, “In Trousdale, there is a kind of urban legend. If you say ‘Javier is dead,’ it’s like a code for a certain generation. They know exactly whom you are quoting, what you mean. It’s like something out of Trollope or Edith Wharton—a lady and her maid. Janet could be a very demanding and difficult lady, but there was something special about her bond with Gracie.”
“Attached at the hip” is how Nancy Reagan, another of Janet’s friends, characterizes it.
When Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show, on May 22, 1992, an era also ended for the de Cordovas. Freddie had produced the show for almost 25 years. Although he stayed on for a brief period as a consultant to Jay Leno, Carson’s successor, his importance in the Hollywood hierarchy—chief gatekeeper to the most revered man in the entertainment industry and executive producer of NBC’s most profitable late-night hour—was over. It was a tremendous blow to his ego. “Leno paid Freddie a pittance, maybe $500 a week,” Janet told me in 2009, shortly before her death, with bitterness in her voice. (An informed source says the network paid him more than three times that amount.) “Freddie started to dress in the worst way,” she continued, “ordering clothes from these horrible catalogues, wearing white shoes and black socks, even though he had closets full of Carroll & Co. suits. He was worrying about me—letting me spend on my clothes, and he would dress cheaply. It was getting pathetic.”
Carla Ridge, as they called their pavilion-like modern house, had been a glittering hub of L.A.’s social scene, and the thought of giving all that up was hard to take. “We were living high off the hog,” said Janet, whose spending was legendary.
“Everything with Janet had to be big and the best,” says her friend Betsy Bloomingdale. “If it was caviar, it had to be big caviar. She always had wonderful things—Lalique, Baccarat—anddid wonderful things, always with Gracie behind the scenes, making sure it was the way Janet wanted it.”
“Janet was an absolute perfectionist,” says Joanna Carson, the third wife (1972–83) of Johnny Carson. “Everything in its place. If an ice bucket on the bar was one centimeter out of place, she would veer over, pass by, touch it back into place, and say something to Gracie or one of the other girls who worked there—I think there were always three girls, Gracie and two under her.” Anne Douglas, the wife of Kirk Douglas, recalls, “The dinners at that house were things of beauty. Janet did not slave in the kitchen, but she made sure everything was either brought in from Chasen’s or was the caviar pasta from Le Dome—her favorite because it had lots of vodka and lots of caviar.” Producer and director George Schlatter (The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In) tells me, “I think she single-handedly introduced Château d’Yquem to this town.”
For years, whenever Carson threatened to quit, Janet would make a play behind the scenes. “Every time,” Joanna Carson recalls. “If Johnny’s contract was coming up, which was every two years, he would say, ‘I’ll give up this show.’ He didn’t want any more money; he just wanted more time off. Then the phone would ring. Janet: ‘Jo-aann-ah! What are we going to do?’ I knew it wasn’t going to happen—Johnny loved that show too much—but she always went behind Fred’s back to me to try to make sure it wasn’t going to end when it didn’t need to.”
“The de Cordovas’ raison d’être,” said Dominick Dunne, “was to live an A-list life. The A-crowd in Los Angeles was a mix of Hollywood and society, with the Reagans very much at the center of things.” The de Cordovas were among the very few TV couples allowed into that rarefied group. “They were untouchables,” in the words of George Schlatter, “in a group of all above-the-title people—the Gary Coopers, the Jack Bennys, the Frank Sinatras, the Billy Wilders, the Dean Martins, the Jimmy Stewarts, the Armand Deutsches, the Lew Wassermans, the Ray Starks, the Earle Jorgensens, the Gregory Pecks, the Jules Steins.”

Freddie’s Demise

What Janet did not know as the curtain finally rang down on Freddie’s career was that her husband had, in effect, already confronted the end of the road with Carson. According to several friends of Janet’s, Freddie was too ashamed to tell her that he and Carson had had a very ugly break at the studio a year previously. Author Bill Zehme, who is at work on a book titled Carson the Magnificent, says, “It was when Johnny returned to the air after his son Ricky died. I’ve studied that tape like the Zapruder film, where Carson did this tribute at the end of the show, talking about his son, a nature photographer, who had died when he was shooting on a mountain and his car rolled over him and took him down the mountain. So Carson goes through a normal show with no mention until the very end. He’s clearly going a little bit long with the tribute, but there are all these majestic nature shots, and Carson is talking about his son—heart-wrenching. Carson was never so naked on the air. And then his eyes start darting over to where Freddie is, and you can see a little register of annoyance. I learned later that Fred was over there actually giving him the ‘Wrap it up’ sign [to indicate that the show was running over]. That was July 1991, so what happened next was Johnny exploded in the after-show meeting in his office. He took Freddie off the floor, and he was never allowed back on. That was the deathblow.”
.......about 5 more pages in VF.....................
here is a link to this very interesting information about old Hollywood from Vanity Fair.  You will notice Freddie deCordova in the credits of Burns and Allen but, of course  I know him best from Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show.
Really, Johnny was amazing...when I was a kid I felt like I knew him, as if he was my friend.  I'm still in shock from the American Experience Show on PBS about Johnny Carson, after seeing it three times, and some of the info I already knew, I was speechless.  Just wondering what othew people thought about that show, too.