NEON & STEEL
by Scott Schulte
Step off the private elevator that rockets you up to Johnny Brenden’s Las Vegas digs, and there’s this sense of déjà vu. You’ve been there before – but not quite. That’s because Brenden, one of the most successful independent theater owners in the country, had his $1.8-million Turnberry Place condo done in a style reminiscent of his theaters: bright, colorful, inviting.
Brenden hails from Hollywood royalty. His grandmother, actress Rhonda Fleming, starred in dozens of films opposite such heavyweights as Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Bing Crosby, and Ronald Reagan — four times. Her husband, Ted Mann, carved out his own reputation in Tinseltown by building and operating the Mann Theatre Corporation.
“I love movies,” Brenden says in a phone interview from his Vegas office at the Palms Casino Resort. “I started at the bottom at my grandfather’s theaters when I was five.” His on-the-job training ranged from standing on a stool and tearing tickets to making popcorn and working as an usher.
Nowadays Brenden’s job title is somewhat different: president and CEO of a movie theater empire that numbers 78 screens and counting.
So when Brenden’s not making movie magic or jetting off to watch the Sacramento Kings with his pal George Maloof [PLAYER, Premiere 2004], the 40-year-old can be found enjoying the sleek lines of his new residence.
“I knew what I wanted, and I went out and found the right people to get it done,” Brenden says.
The right people included Francisco Behr of Behr Bowers Architects, a firm that had designed several of Brenden’s theater complexes, including the award-winning Brenden Theatres Modesto 18. Behr’s résumé also includes the revitalization of L.A.’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, a venue once owned by Ted Mann.
“Working with Johnny is very easy in that he has a certain vision. It’s different than what most home interiors are going to have,” Behr says.
Those differences include neon lights, granite columns, and the sort of high-grade metals more typically found in commercial structures.
“Johnny enjoys the excitement of the evening, and we created it so he could enjoy such a mood at any time of the day. He’s not afraid to use bright lights and colors,” Behr says, adding, “A lot of people are, but Johnny loves the lights and excitement they add to his home and theaters.”
As Brenden quickly points out, “Having grown up around the industry, the bright lights and look of a movie theater was a perfect theme for my home.”