SELLER: Paul Haggis
LOCATION: Santa Monica, CA
SIZE: 5,690 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Two weeks ago, the award-winning television and movie screenwriter/producer/director Paul Haggis and his estranged, former-actress second wife Deborah Rennard quietly hoisted their long-time family home in Santa Monica, CA on the market with a $5,250,000 price tag.
We don’t know a pouf from a poof, of course, but If Your Mama were the betting type—and we’re not—we’d wager Big Daddy’s citrus ranch up in Middle-of-Nowhere, CA that this mini-mansion in Santa Monica has lately been occupied primarily (if not exclusively) by soon-to-be second-ex-Missus Haggis, once a small-bit actress most known for her role as Texas oilman J.R. Ewing’s loyal secretary on the 1980s nighttime soap story Dallas.
The couple have been amicably uncoupled for a few years now and Mister Haggis, who sired one child with Miz Rennard and three with his first wife, has reportedly been spending more time in New York City. In June 2010 the newly-single-again Showbiz scribe shelled out $3,950,000 on a 2,948 square foot loft-condo bachelor pad in SoHo with, according to listing information from the time of the purchase, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and monthly taxes and common charges of $5,397
A notably prolific screenwriter, Mister Haggis has toiled in the trenches of Tinseltown since the late 1970s and early 1980s when he wrote for a heavy-duty handful of campy if iconic sitcoms that include Love Boat, Diff’rent Strokes, One Day at a Time and The Facts of Life. In the late ’80s Mister Haggis was awarded an Emmy for his writing work on the prime time soap story thirtysomething and in the 1990s he primarily penned tee-vee crime and law dramas (L.A. Law, EZ Streets, Walker, Texas Ranger and Family Law).
His upwardly mobile foray into the world of cinema didn’t begin in earnest until the early 2000s and almost immediately resulted in the much-gushed over and award-winning movies Crash, Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima, all three of which earned Mister Haggis Academy Award nominations. In 2004 Mister Haggis was awarded two of the plummiest of the Oscars—both for Crash, one for Best Original Screenplay and the other for the Best Motion Picture of the Year.
His output seems to have slowed in the last few years but, let’s be honest, who could blame him if he wanted to slow down and shift focus a little bit after a pretty damn spectacular, non-stop thirty year (and counting) career? Mister Haggis’s more recent efforts on the small screen (The Black Donnellys) and the big screen (Quantum of Solace, The Next Three Days) have not resulted in such bell-ringing accolades and, indeed, Mister Haggis may very well be less well known the last few years for his inventive screenplays as for his daring, full-throttled, articulate and very public renunciation of Scientology.
Mister Haggis voluntarily belonged to the religious organization for nearly 35 years but bitterly parted ways with the group in 2009 and, in a eye-popping early 2011 profile in The New Yorker entitled The Apostate, unequivocally called the polemical organization “a cult.” But, children, fascinating as Mister Haggis’ personal story may be—and a real damn ring tailed doozy of a tale it is—it’s his real estate story we’re here to discuss.
Property records show Mister and soon-to-be-second-ex-Missus Haggis paid $2,618,520 for the property that current listing information indicates spans a prairie-flat, 13,000-plus square foot corner lot located less than a mile from the beach and hosts a chunky, tree-enshrouded, East Coast-y sort of grey-shingled mini-mansion with 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms in 5,690 square feet.
A shrub- and boxwood-lined slate walk way (which we like), passes under an small arbor (which we don’t) and cuts across a verdant, shaded lawn to the front door that opens dramatically into a mostly beige, unexpectedly spacious double-height entry with gleaming wood floors and a glimmering, rich-old-lady crystal chandelier.
There are—natch—predominantly beige and decoratively traditional formal living and dining rooms, the former with a fireplace and large enough to accommodate a baby grand piano and the latter with a steeply vaulted and sky-light dotted ceiling and a wide bank of French doors to the exterior entertainment areas.
Less stiff—if equally beige—family quarters include a giant, quite bright and faintly rustic, country-style eat in kitchen. This area is neatly outfitted with more gleaming hardwood floors, crisp white raised-panel cabinetry, gray (or maybe greenish-gray) stone counter tops, commercial-style appliances, a center island snack counter, and a built-in desk where Esmerelda the housekeeper can clip coupons and keep track of the floor waxing schedule.
An adjoining breakfast room opens into the backyard, as does the cavernous family room with high-drama exposed beam ceiling and flat-screen tee-vee built in to an entertainment center with enclosed storage cabinets—for games, scented candles, various paraphernalia, etc.—and two expanses of book shelves filled with actual books. We adore the deep window seat in the corner of the room where Your Mama can imagine spending hours upon hours reading and napping but—have mercy!—did soon-to-be-ex-Missus Haggis and/or Mister Haggis ever meet a shade of beige over which they did not break out in a sweat of decorative desire? Seriously!
Listing information indicates there are three bedrooms on the lower level, one a second master suite and another probably small enough—and probably also ill-located enough—to be identified as “Guest/Maids Quarters.”
The second floor can accessed by a grand staircase in the (mostly beige) front foyer that somehow manages to be both amazingly ho-hum and Scarlett O’Hara worthy, or a far more prosaic staircase in the kitchen. A loft landing with book-filled bookcases connects to a private office/study with built-in wood cabinetry and a guest bedroom with private bathroom. Finally there is the tastefully if blandly decorated primary master suite with fireplace, over-sized walk-in closet and—not at all surprisingly—a pale beige bathroom with double sinks, soaking tub and separate, glassed-in and steam-equipped shower.
Several rooms along the back of the house open though French doors to a huge, slate terrace partially shaded by a slatted pergola. The terraces steps down to a built-in outdoor kitchen/barbecue center with snack counter and ambles down again to a shaded patch of grass where one might understandably expect to find—but does not find—a swimming pool and/or spa. Five and some million bucks in Santa Monica just don’t buy a millionaire what it used to, does it? There is, perhaps as some consolation, also a detached three-car garage off the alley that runs behind the property.
Although they’ve owned their (former) family spread in Santa Monica for a dozen years, a slow peek and poke around public property record databases reveals Mister and soon-to-be second-ex-Missus Haggis together and separately bought and sold a significant amount of property during their 12-or-so years of marriage.
In May 2012 the now-kaput couple took a loss when they sold a small condo in Chicago, IL for $191,500 that they picked up in (presumably) happier times, in June 2006, for $242,000 and in August 2008 Mister Haggis coughed up $2,365,000 for a 2,262 square foot, single-story ranch-style residence a few blocks away from the family homestead in Santa Monica that he sold in July 2010 at a considerable loss for $2,000,000.
Sometime in 2002 or 2003—depending on where online one looks, and along with another non-celebrity couple, Mister Haggis acquired a pair of petite and charming if somewhat nondescript, side-by-side residences in Clearwater, FL that at some point he came to own on his own. Clearwater is, of course, the official headquarters of the Church of Scientology Corporation where acolytes of the secretive and frequently controversial religious organization travel to get audited—or whatever—at a non-contiguous campus that Scientologists reverently refer to as Flag Land Base. Mister Haggis may have left the church but is yet, according to property records we peeped, to unload his Clearwater cribs.
In June 2000 they took in $2,129,000 when they sold a 3,568 square foot house in Santa Monica they’d purchased just a couple years earlier for an unknown amount and about the same time in 2000 that they bought the Santa Monica mini-manse now on the market for $5,250,000, Mister and Missus Haggis also scooped up a vacant, ocean-view residential parcel in Pacific Palisades that they did not develop and sold in 2008 for undisclosed amounts.
listing photos: Prudential California Realtors