EXCLUSIVE: On the 20th anniversary of Johnny Carson’s final Tonight Show, HBO has optioned Once Upon A Time In Beverly Hills, an article Matt Tyrnauer wrote in the March 2011 issue of Vanity Fair. HBO will develop it into a movie about the long, unusual relationship between Beverly Hills socialite Janet de Cordova and her longtime housekeeper Gracie Covarrubias. Tyrnauer, who helmed the documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor, will direct, and John Hoffman will write the script.
Janet was the wife of Freddie de Cordova, Carson’s long time Tonight Show producer. She came to Hollywood hoping to use her beauty to become an actress, but through de Cordova she found her way into the center of the social swirl as one of the true socialites of her era. The de Cordova couple lived lavishly, and threw the most opulent A-list parties populated by the likes of Gary Cooper, Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, Billy Wilder, Dean Martin, Jimmy Stewart, Lew Wasserman, and Ray Stark. In the process, she spent way more than de Cordova earned. By her side always was Covarrubias, her Mexican servant who tended to de Cordova’s every need, down to periodically stirring the drink de Cordova held in her hand. When her husband died, de Cordova was forced to sell her Beverly Hills estate. Eventually, she went to live in Mexico with Covarribias, who, to the surprise of de Cordova, had used her years of earnings to build a house that was a miniature replica of the home de Cordova was forced to sell. All of her friends had abandoned her or died, but not Covarribias.
The film will be executive produced by Langley Park’s Kevin McCormick, Management 360’s Darin Friedman, Wendy Stark, and Tyrnauer.