EXCLUSIVE: The Chateau Marmont, which for the past 80 years has served as the backdrop of major events in Hollywood history and the lives of its famous inhabitants, will now take front stage in a miniseries from The Office star John Krasinski and Aaron Sorkin. Oscar winner Sorkin will write the mini, now in early development, which will be based on the book Life At The Marmont by former Chateau Marmont co-owner Raymond R. Sarlot and Fred Basten. Krasinski, who has been the driving force behind the project, and Sorkin will executive produce with Chateau Marmont’s current owner Andre Balazs and his daughter Alessandra. Krasinski is also expected to play a role in the as-yet-untitled miniseries, which will tell the interconnected stories of the people who frequented the famed Hollywood landmark over several generations. Since the 1930s, the building, originally built as an apartment complex in the late 1920s and then converted into a hotel, has been the epicenter of Hollywood, attracting film and television actors, literary greats and rock stars. Its guest list through the years has included Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Erol Flynn, Stan Laurel, John Wayne, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Sharon Tate, Hunter S. Thompson, Heath Ledger, Keanu Reeves and Lindsay Lohan. Greta Garbo attended parties there during her movie star days and later stayed at the hotel during her seclusion period, James Dean auditioned for Rebel Without a Cause there, Howard Hughes stayed in the attic and spied on women at the pool, F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack at the hotel, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis recorded and Lily Allen wrote a song there, and Sofia Coppola set and filmed Somewhere at the Chateau Marmont. And then there is the event the hotel is most closely associated with: John Belushi’s 1982 death of a drug overdose in one of the garden bungalows.
Krasinski lives close to the hotel and often holds his meetings there. “I almost feel it’s my extended living room,” he quipped. It was after one such business meeting last fall that Krasinski found himself waiting at the hotel’s valet line for almost half an hour. “I was staring at the hotel and wondered if there had ever been a project about it.” He went home, did some research, which showed that nothing had been done about the Chateau Marmont on screen, so he set out to do a project “about the history of the Chateau Marmont in some fashion.” He then thought of something else he hadn’t seen onscreen, “the definitive history of Hollywood,” and the two notions blended together into “the idea to tell the history of Hollywood using the Chateau Marmont as the epicenter.” Krasinski quickly secured the rights to the hotel from Balazs and reached out to “the only person” he wanted to write the mini, Sorkin, who was then busy with the Oscar campaign for The Social Network but found the time to read Life At the Marmont and quickly said yes. “I don’t think there is a better writer than Aaron Sorkin,” Krasinski said. “The fact that he would do this project with me, is one of the highest compliments of my career.” The mini, whose length is not set yet but is expected to be around eight hours, will span the entire history of the Chateau Marmont from the time it was built to present day. Krasinski, who is producing the project through his Sunday Night Prods., plans to take a role and hopes many of his colleagues will too. “My dream is to have a whole slew of great actors — some very famous and some not famous at all, to make it an homage to Hollywood.” Sorkin is now busy with his HBO pilot More As This Story Develops, which is in production, and also co-wrote the upcoming movie Moneyball, while Krasinski just wrapped the feature Nobody Walks and will next be seen in Everybody Loves Whales and on the upcoming eighth season of The Office. Both are with WME, though Krasinski was at CAA when the Chateau Marmont project was pitched to HBO.