Inside Wealthy Beverly Hills

Apr 01, 2023 3.2M Views 6.2K Comments

Join me as we enter one of the most luxurious neighborhoods in the world and meet movie producer Joseph Merhi who came to America from Syria with $400 and a student visa and lived out his dream of producing over 100 movies and becoming a wealthy resident of Beverly Hills.

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► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

♪ jazz ♪
PETER: Good morning, guys.
Los Angeles, California,
one of the greatest concentrations
of wealth in the world
and typically in my videos
it’s next to impossible
to get a wealthy person on camera
in my unscripted manner,
but today is different.
We’re meeting a man
who’s produced over a hundred movies,
started various businesses,
now works in real estate.
He’s done very well for himself
and he’s agreed to bring us into a world
that most of us never see.
Let’s do this.
♪ jazz ♪
PETER: Quite a beautiful place
you have here, Joseph.
JOSEPH: Thank you.
Yeah, we bought this place
28, 29 years ago.
The last person who lived here
was Rod Stewart.
The singer, you know Rod Stewart?
-Of course.
-Yeah, he was building a house
in Beverly Park.
It’s a huge community.
Huge, huge mansions.
Sylvester Stalone lives there.
Now Adele.
Denzel Washington.
You know, it’s a very, very tight,
closed, secure community.
It goes up to
hundreds of millions of dollars.
-So you’ve produced
a hundred plus movies, right?
-I have, yes.
-How was that journey?
-It was incredible actually, I didn’t…
When we were kids we really didn’t know
much about making movies.
We just jumped in, the first move
I made on 16 millimeter for $50,000.
-Yeah, I sold it for $180,000…
…and I started with a partner of mine
who was the director of photography
on the movie, his name’s Richard Pepin.
-We didn’t have, like, a business plan,
“Let’s get wealthy, let’s get rich…”
We just wanted to make movies.
We were on the set constantly.
We couldn’t wait to sell the movie
at any price so we could make another one.
-You’re from?
The reason I came here… [chuckles]
I had a dream
to get into the movie business.
-So you’re in, say, Damascus, or where?
Homs, a small city called Homs.
And what got me into the movies is
a small theater just opened next to my dad.
My dad was shoemaker.
I used to go and help him
ever since I was six years old.
Worked with my dad
and we became friendly with the guy
who owns the movie theater.
So he let me in for free anytime I want.
So I watched, I was first introduced
to John Wayne and Humphry Bogart.
The movie would play for a whole month
and I’ll see it 10, 15, 20 times.
-And I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
It changed my life for sure.
I wanted to come to Hollywood
and make movies.
-So how does someone
make that jump from Syria?
It’s not an easy transition is it?
-It wasn’t easy.
You know, it’s not an easy transition
at all but most people…
Most people, ordinary,
ultra-successful, anybody…
You know, God kind of sends someone
to help them along the way.
And that person for me is a neighbor,
Christian neighbor.
Who his great-grandfather migrated to,
at one point, to America…
…and had relatives.
-He came to go to school here and he
sent me an application from a college.
From Palatka, Florida.
And I came on a student visa.
$400 in my pocket.
We were, you know,
below middle class, not very poor
but man, my dad said,
“If you want to go
that’s all you get, $400, you go.”
-Student visa and $400?
-That’s it.
-Welcome to America?
-Welcome to America.
-So how was that landing?
-It was… It was…
Well, I didn’t know any better.
I was 18 years old.
I lived on hot dogs and boiled eggs.
[Peter chuckling]
-But you’re Muslim, right?
-I am Muslim, yes.
-And you’re on hot dogs?
-Whatever it took?
[both laughing]
-Whatever it took.
As a matter of fact, I’ll tell you
once I got to college,
and I met and Iraqi kid,
and he said to me,
barely spoke English, and he said to me,
“That’s all you eat is eggs and hot dogs?”.
And you know, in the same pot.
I bought a pot for a couple dollars
and a burner.
And he goes, “You like tuna fish?”.
I said, “What’s a tuna fish?”.
So he told, “It’s delicious.”
-He says, “Only 9 cents a can.”
I said, “Really?”.
So he said,
“Yeah, I bought a hundred of ’em.”
I said, “Where’d you get ’em from?”.
So we went to the market,
and we’re getting these 9 cents tuna,
and then I said…
His name was Mohammed.
“Mohammed, why there is
a picture of a cat on the can?”.
[both laughing]
-You thought you were eating cat?
-He was eating cat food.
-Oh, he was eating cat food.
The cat, it was 9 cents,
it says tuna on it.
And when I question it
and we start asking the cashier, she said,
-“Yeah, that’s cat food.”
[both laughing]
-This is beautiful, wow.
-Thank you.
-So you have big dinner events here?
-A lot of dinners here,
this is my Moroccan room.
A friend of mine designed it and
we built it like a set, like a movie set.
-Oh wow, that’s beautiful.
-And also I have,
’cause I was in the pizza business.
Not one pizza oven,
I have two pizza ovens…
And wood burning pizza ovens.
So I make pizzas from scratch.
-So growing up in Syria
for the first 18 years…
Which I’ve been to Syria,
and I absolutely loved it.
I was there before the war, 2007.
Do you hold on to your Syrian roots
or do you feel like you’re fully American?
I am fully American.
I married a Christian American.
-Oh, okay.
-My kids are born here.
This is my home, this is my haven.
There is nothing like this country.
-Nothing in the world.
Well, you traveled to 80 countries.
-So I traveled quite a bit.
There is nowhere in the world
like this country.
You have laws.
You have somebody like me,
who can come from Syria,
and who can go to get a permit,
for example, I have a chase scene,
and I needed the freeway, and…
They can’t say to me…
They can’t say no to me
and say yes to Paramount and Universal.
You have rights, you have freedom,
you have opportunity.
It’s a huge country.
Everything is available here.
Everything available if you know what…
You know, where to find it.
And people are… American people
are the greatest people in the world.
They’re really very kind,
nice, beautiful…
They don’t know… Most of them,
the don’t know what’s best for them,
or they don’t know what they have.
-“What’s best for them.”
What do you mean by that?
-Well, I mean if you take
the average person…
-You know, unfortunately they’re so busy
trying to pay the bills, raise their kids,
they don’t take the time to figure out
what’s best for them.
How to, like for example, I saw you
interview the Hasidic Jews or the Jews.
-They have one day where everything stop,
and rewind, and think, and talk.
-Spend time with the family and cook.
Cooking, to me,
if I was in charge of this country
I would make it mandatory
more than education.
-Eating good food?
-Eating good food and cook with the family.
So beautiful.
-This is one of my art director
in the movies, his name is George Vital.
He painted this.
This is a 38 feet ceiling.
-Oh yeah, that’s nice.
The light comes right in.
I see you’ve taken
to Christmas pretty well, Joseph.
-I love Christmas.
It start playing in October,
Christmas music.
All our Christmas dinners here
and there’s a lot of memories.
-And you’re not letting go of Christmas?
-‘Cause we’re far into January now
I think it’s gonna stay another month.
At the end of February maybe.
-So you were saying outside,
a lot of Americans
just don’t understand what
they have or what’s here.
Is that because
you have a foreign set of eyes?
You saw another system or…
-Well, you take the Koreans, for example.
I just read a story.
This is a true story about the Koreans.
You know, they come in, they open
a liquor store or a store in New York
and they work seven days a week.
I mean, the mom, the dad,
they sleep in the store, they…
You know, I mean they sacrifice
and then one day…
…somebody went to the store
and there was a sign, says,
“I’m sorry, we’re closed today.”
The only day maybe in 30 years, 20 years.
“I’m sorry, we’re closed today
to watch our son graduate from Harvard.”
You know?
-Oh, wow.
From immigrant to Harvard graduations.
So first of all, you know,
it starts with a sacrifice a little bit.
In order for you, for anybody to get ahead.
You know, when you’re
18, 19, 20, 21, really,
that’s the time when
you really need to work hard.
Save some money.
I had two jobs for a long, long time.
When I moved to Los Angeles,
wanted to be in the movie business.
I couldn’t be in the movie business.
I didn’t speak the language.
I mean, nobody’s gonna…
Clint Eastwood didn’t call me, say,
“Oh, you know, I heard
you want to be in the movie business.”
“You wanna come by?”.
-We’re looking for the Syrian
fresh off the boat.
-Yeah, Syrian fresh of the boat.
So I had… I realized in 1974,
I can’t afford the rent in Los Angeles.
So when the kids complain today,
“Oh, Los Angeles, I can’t afford the rent.”
Well, this is nothing new.
In ’74 I couldn’t afford the rent.
-So what’d you do?
-I moved to Las Vegas.
Like people move to
Texas or Florida, you know?
-Like they’re doing now to Vegas too right?
A lot of LA is moving there.
-A lot of LA moving there.
So moved to Las Vegas because you can
make a little bit more money in Las Vegas.
Less taxes, the rent was cheap.
That’s when I was able to buy a car,
buy a house, sell the house,
open a pizzeria, save the money,
open a couple more pizzerias,
and decided, “Okay, now I’m ready
to go make movies.”
-Okay, so you had to sort of go, in a way,
back, or go this direction
before you could go that direction?
-Yes, yes.
I got a job in Las Vegas.
I learned how to deal all the games.
I got a job as a room service waiter.
And so I had two jobs, I mean
when I had only one shift it was like,
“Oh my God,
I only have one shift today, one job.”
That was a celebration.
But that’s how I saved my money
and been able to open.
Again, take the chance and open a business.
-The majority in your circle here,
would you say they’re all entrepreneurs?
-Entrepreneurs, 100%.
-I mean a lot of educated people.
I am not.
I’m not one of them.
But a lot of educated people.
Like friend of mine, extremely,
extremely wealthy and successful developer.
He’s a lawyer, his wife is a lawyer.
They work very hard, anybody
who achieved anything, that I know,
they worked very hard.
-So how many bedrooms here, Joseph?
-There are seven bedrooms
and ten bathrooms.
-I never understood
more bathrooms than bedrooms.
-Well, I don’t know if you have
two bathrooms in your relationship
but your wife definitely
should have her own bathroom.
To make a better marriage
and a happier wife.
This is our master bedroom.
The master bedroom
is about 2,800 square feet.
-Oh, wow.
-So this is Dahlia’s closet.
WOMAN: Oh, you got it on?
PETER: It’s beautiful.
How are you?
WOMAN: I’m good, Peter, how are you?
-Good to meet you.
DAHLIA: Hello, hello.
PETER: Nice to meet you.
PETER: So this is where my wife
just got interested in the video.
[all laughing]
This part right here.
[all laughing]
JOSEPH: It’s a two story.
PETER: This is beautiful.
So how did you two meet?
DAHLIA: That’s a good story.
-I was looking for a house.
-And I found a house, and her uncle,
he was my friend, he said,
“Have my niece write it up
and make some money because she…”
“You know, you don’t have an agent?”
I said, “I really don’t have an agent.”
So she arrived,
this was in the valley in Studio City.
The most expensive house
on the street at the time, 1.2 million.
So Dahlia comes in, I said, you know,
“This is your luckiest day.”
“Write this house,
I’m gonna pay cash for it.”
DAHLIA: “Write up this offer.”
-“And you’re gonna make $25,000.
And she said,
“Oh, this is a horrible house.”
“You shouldn’t buy this house.”
I said, “What? Why?”.
She said, “It’s the most expensive,
it doesn’t make any sense.
Let me show you a couple more houses
before you buy this house.”
-It was by far the most expensive home
on the street by, like, triple.
PETER: 1.2 million?
-1.2, everything else was, like…
-That would be
the cheapest home now, right?
-Right, but everything else at that time
was $300,000 and $400,000.
-So I said when you invest in real estate
you want to be smart.
You want to be the least expensive home
in a nicer neighborhood.
Not the most expensive.
-So she refused to write it.
She said,
“Let me show you a couple more houses.”
We start looking at different houses.
We went out for lunch,
that lasted four or five hours.
That was on a Monday.
On Thursday that week
I asked her to marry me.
[all laughing]
And she said yes.
-And I said yes.
what was going through your head?
Were you like,
“This just feels right, I’m in.”
or you were like…
-Yeah, no,
the moment I met him it just felt right.
-Yeah, the moment I met him.
-How many years?
JOSEPH: And of course it went from
a million-two into purchasing this house
for four million dollars.
PETER: This was four million?
JOSEPH: This was four million.
And now what do you think the value is?
-Well we just refinanced it,
the bank appraisal was 24 million.
-Love works in many ways.
-It does.
So the whole advice of,
“Oh, you gotta live together first…”
“…Spend a couple years together.”
Didn’t need it?
-No, I think when you know, you know.
We discussed everything.
We really… We had a year long engagement.
So that we didn’t seem that impulsive
and we did discuss everything.
-And we got married in Las Vegas,
and who was the singer?
-Rod Stewart?
BOTH: Wayne Newton.
[all laughing]
-Wayne sang at our wedding.
PETER: So this is what you need?
You’re saying for
a very healthy relationship?
-Separate bathrooms.
DAHLIA: Separate bath and closet.
JOSEPH: Absolutely.
Separate bathroom and closet.
PETER: Yeah, I don’t feel
your essence in here, Joseph.
JOSEPH: No, no.
[all laughing]
She has her office here.
She has double doors to keep me out.
[all laughing]
PETER: Double doors is essential also?
Oh, wow.
This is beautiful, you guys.
PETER: Okay, here we go.
This is definitely a toned down version.
[Dahlia laughs]
-But guess what,
see all these things on top?
-That’s still her closet.
She puts stuff in it.
-Oh, up there?
DAHLIA: It’s family storage, you know?
PETER: We’re calling it family storage?
DAHLIA: Yeah, albums of the kids…
…and you know, ski stuff, family storage.
PETER: One step at a time Joseph,
watch out.
-Here’s the wedding, see?
-What’s that?
-That’s the wedding, 29, 30 years ago.
-Oh, wow.
-So you came over at 18,
have you ever gone back to Syria?
-Once when I was 19.
DAHLIA: That’s it.
-That’s the last time?
-That’s it, yeah.
-I went back because I missed it so much.
Then I couldn’t wait to get out.
I came here and literally,
like I went to Vietnam.
I was having nightmares that I was
waking up in Syria.
I was having nightmares
for the longest time.
-Like a helicopter would go over
and you’d start sweating.
-Yeah, I’m just…
By the way,
this is the room I was gonna give you.
-See, this is the guest room, Peter.
When I offered to you I said…
PETER: I’m a loser. I’m a loser.
I shoulda taken that offer.
JOSEPH: It has its own entrance.
So you came here
sort of in the golden moment,
some might say, of America, right?
There was
no competition internationally, really.
Like, China wasn’t a player.
You know, you couldn’t just
make it from anywhere.
You sort of had to be here
for many professions.
Can you still do that now do you think?
-I know for a fact you can do it.
What you do used to take me 50 people
to do what you do right now.
By yourself holding this camera.
It’s too dark here, you need reflectors,
you need HMI’s, you need…
-You have been
a great director so far I gotta say.
[all laughing]
It is like I’m having help today.
I came in here, guys,
and Joseph said to the gardener, you know,
“Stop mowing because the audio.”
and I’m like, “Oh, thank you.”
’cause usually that’s my job.
JOSEPH: I am really passionate about
cooking and about eating healthy food.
And it doesn’t cost much at all.
I eat a lot of hummus.
PETER: Oh, yeah.
-This is for you, this is Italian hummus.
-Oh, awesome.
-This is just with tomatoes.
This is the classic, this is just olive oil
but let me show you.
Hey Flore.
It’s okay if we come through here?
It’s okay?
It’s a mess? It’s okay, who cares.
PETER: Morning.
JOSEPH: In my refrigerator,
look what I have.
I have two refrigerators
but all vegetables.
All vegetables.
-You’re a Costco shopper?
-Yes, my wife is.
I don’t go there.
She loves Costco but for me, where I go…
[light switch]
If you come here.
-Oh great, there we go.
-Look at this.
[bags rustling]
This is like 50 pounds of beans, you know?
This is $28 for 50 pounds.
You can feed 200 people.
And a little bit of exercise
if you go through here.
I need….
PETER: This is where it happens, huh?
So you work out a lot?
-I do work out, you know?
I built this little screening room.
-This is where you watch your movies
or whatever movies?
-I have 5,000 movies on this.
-Oh, this is great.
So you just close the curtain.
-These are my movies.
-Who was the most interesting actor
you worked with?
-Most interesting…
-Or who you connected with the most?
Who you really liked.
-Roy Scheider, who did Jaws.
He was extremely professional.
Very, very, very sweet.
Very, very nice.
And I worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme.
-Oh, wow.
-I worked with a lot of different people.
-Who are these people?
-Peter, I bought a little apartment building
in Hollywood
and it was empty,
and it was this picture in it,
and it was this poster in it,
and somebody left it behind.
And I love those… Both pictures.
I love Sinatra.
I love Dean Martin.
I love all these guys.
I listen to Tony Bennet
and Frank Sinatra all the time.
JOSEPH: Sinatra used to perform
at Caesar’s Palace,
and Sinatra was extremely kind person.
He was a big tipper.
So… And when he used to finish a show
at Caesar’s, all the valet guys know
Sinatra’s done, you better have the car
right in the front when he shows up.
So he comes in and he had
a little bit to drink, and goes,
“Hey kid…”
and, you know, he goes,
“What’s the biggest tip
you’ve ever gotten?”
He’s a little bit drunk
and he gets in the car, he goes,
“Mr. Sinatra, I got a tip for $100.”
He goes, “Tonight, you’re gonna get $200.”
He gave me $200, and he closes the door.
Start the engine, he goes,
“Hey, by the way, who gave you that $100?”
He goes, “It was you, last night, Sinatra.”
I played tennis for 20-some years.
I used to go to the Playboy mansion
every Saturday and Sunday
and play, you know,
play tennis on their court.
-You knew Hugh Hefner?
-I knew Hugh Hefner very well.
Kieth Hefner, his brother,
was one of my best friends.
-Did you ever put a pause on your life
mentally and say,
“Look, I grew up in Syria.
I came to this country with zero English.”
“Worked in a restaurant.
Now I’m at Hef’s mansion.”?
-Only in this country, again.
Only in this country.
-You didn’t come with a name or money.
-You built it all.
I never dreamed I would
live in a place like this, you know?
Look at this, I mean…
Even my mom, when she saw it,
when she first saw this place,
I brought her in, she goes,
“Don’t do it. Don’t do it. This is crazy.”
You know, in Arabic she started praying.
She said,
“Don’t do this. What are you doing?”.
And actually I got scared.
I got scared because
it was a lot of money at the time.
I was making…
30 years ago
I was making over a million a year.
I was making a million-six a year.
It was barely enough
to cover the mortgage and living this life.
So I got scared.
So I went to cancel the escrow.
He goes,
“Why are you canceling the escrow?”.
I said, “This is crazy, I can’t afford it.”
If I get fired, things slow down,
I’ll lose my house.
So he opened the folder and he goes,
“There’s only one Beverly Hills
in the world.”
and I said,
“Oh damnit, why did you say that?”
And I changed my mind and kept the house.
Thank God he said that.
-So do you think it’s better
to stretch a little like that financially
and then it just forces you
to stay very focused or you lose it all?
-Yes, especially in a market
where, you know,
a strong real estate market.
I mean you don’t want to
do that in Alabama.
Build $5 million home,
$10 million home in Alabama.
Because you cannot resell it.
But the property here is constantly…
Especially in a good location…
Hugh Hefner bought his property in 1972
for $1.2 million.
Hugh Hefner sold it while he was alive
for $105 million.
From 1.2 to $105 million
[plate clanking]
PETER: You don’t consider yourself
Syrian anymore
but this stuff’s obviously
in the blood, right?
-Yeah, definitely.
-Did you ever have any problems
for being Arab or Syrian?
Was that ever an issue in the States?
-You know, it was…
Well first of all, I’m not.
You know, I’m married to a Christian,
my kids grew up going to church.
-I’m not religious at all.
It’s my God, it’s your god.
I get up in the morning, the first thing,
I go out and thank God, one on one.
Whatever his name is, Allah, Jesus.
-Okay, outside of religion,
have you had problems being Syrian
or being Arab?
-No, because I…
It’s how you approach it really.
I mean, look,
you have the same great attitude.
Very friendly, courteous, nice to people.
You can sense if somebody’s gonna be,
you know, a problem.
You walk away.
Hi, goodbye, you keep walking.
I’ve seen your shows
and it’s the same thing here.
-A friend of mine is an Egyptian.
-He’s in the bar and this redneck said,
“Hey boy, where you from?”.
He goes, “Egypt.”
and the guy said,
“Egypt? That’s a sh*t country.”
He goes, “I know, that’s why I’m here.”
[both laughing]
PETER: Oh, jeez.
JOSEPH: I mean it coulda gone either way.
-He could say screw you and then…
You know, it’s how you…
-How you diffuse the situation?
-How you diffuse the situation.
I’ve never really been in a situation
where somebody said,
“You Goddamned Arab, foreigner,
get out of here.” or something.
I’ve never been in those situations.
-Never in 50 years?
-Never in 50 years.
And, you know, if I sense somebody
is looking at me funny,
or, you know, doesn’t want to
sit next to me in a bar or something,
I just, you know, I just move away.
I always keep in mind,
“God, what if this guy has a son
who got killed in Iraq?”.
-Or got killed in foreign land,
or 9-11, and I remind him of…
You know, I just have to
give him that moment and walk away.
-This is fantastic, Joseph.
Nothing like a good hummus.
There we go.
Why is it so hard
to get into the wealthy world?
Let me just say this.
Let me preface this differently.
Shooting videos,
I can get into all different communities.
-So thank you, for bringing me in,
it’s very nice.
Because everyone wants to see
how different people live.
We all can learn from that, right?
-Why is it so hard to get in?
If you’re not, say, part of the club.
-Multi-multi-multi millionaire.
Why is there, like, a steel wall almost?
-I know three billionaires.
-And there’s no way
they’ll give an interview.
Whatever I can say his name,
he passed away, Kirk Kerkorian.
Who owned 10 hotels in Las Vegas.
From New York, New York, to MGM,
Mandalay Bay, to Belagio,
and he’s the greatest guy in the world.
He’s such a nice guy
but he never gave an interview to anybody.
He’s just so private,
most people are private,
and most people, including me,
I am probably, I tell my wife,
I’m probably the poorest guy
in Beverly Hills.
You know?
I don’t want to come across
like I’m bragging or, “Look at me.”
-Okay, right.
-And I hope I never came across…
Anything I say, that I’m not bragging.
I’m hoping to inspire somebody.
That’s the reason I said,
you know, I’ll agree to do this.
But I did mention it
to a couple friends of mine
and you know, wealthy,
and they said, “No, no thanks.”
-Is that a new thing in the culture?
Where, say, the wealthier…
I don’t’ know, I don’t know…
People looking down on the wealthy?
Or is it they’re just better
not to tell any story?
-Well, they’re perceived…
Yeah, they’re heartless.
They use people.
The only reason they got wealthy
because they took advantage of people.
And they have their own, you know circle,
and, “New friends, I don’t need.”
kind of thing, you know?
-Okay, yeah.
I think most things that come at them,
maybe at that position in life,
are a liability.
“Can you help me do this?”
“Can you do this?”
-Exactly, exactly.
-Expected to do something.
-That makes sense.
PETER: How does money work
in the sense that,
you have a million, you want two million.
You have two million,
you want three million, right?
It keeps going,
and going, and going, right?
And have a nice home here?
Well, there’s that one.
And that’s all of a sudden 50 million
or 100 million.
Is that a constant stress?
-Like to want more or how does that work?
-I think, to me, once you have enough…
Everything else you want to do,
unless it’s fun, I don’t want to do it.
I don’t want to do it for the money.
I don’t want to die with an extra
million dollars in the bank or 10 million.
I don’t want a bigger house.
I don’t want a plane.
I have friends with private planes.
I don’t want one.
I drive, you know, a nice car,
but I don’t drive a $300,000 car.
-Rolex, you know,
I don’t need any of that stuff.
I do like to make money if it’s fun.
If it’s a fun project, of course.
-That’s the measure of
whether you’re successful or not.
If you make money from the project.
-And you’re still doing these right now?
-I still do ’em,
I don’t think I’m gonna quit.
You know, even if I’m 90,
I’m still gonna work.
I like working.
-Where was that transition from movies
over to real estate?
-It’s almost the same thing.
You know, building a set, creating a story,
you’re creating something
that’s even more lasting
because I never made a move, like,
Casablanca, or The Godfather.
I made, you know, popcorn movies.
So now if you
build something like this, you know?
Or a hotel, or a place for people to enjoy,
or a restaurant,
I think it’s the biggest high.
JOSEPH: This is Beverly and Santa Monica.
This is the highest sale in the world.
It just sold for $415 million.
-This building?
-1.2 acres.
They’re gonna build
the Louis Vuitton Hotel.
I think the cheapest room
is going to be $3,000 a night.
-So what do you think right now
with the way…
With the way the economy is going, right?
People are either going up in wealth,
the middle is going down,
the poor is the poor.
-The average job,
to buy a home and all these other things,
it’s much more difficult.
-It is much more expensive.
Much more difficult, but I think if you
compare it to a different period in time,
It was like this in the ’70s
and the ’80s I think.
-I think so.
JOSEPH: Just right now, okay,
tell me who doesn’t own an iPhone?
Even a homeless person owns an iPhone.
So now the expectations
of what you need to have
is completely different.
I just don’t see the millennial
working two jobs and saying,
“You know what, I don’t need to
go to a bar and spend $22 on a martini.”
“I’ll skip that.”
“I’ll go and read a book.”
I mean the difference
between who’s gonna make it
and who’s not gonna make it
is how much effort,
and education, and discipline…
…you know, you put in now.
PETER: So your first experience was what?
-With Clint Eastwood
working as a production assistant.
I wasn’t a paid assistant.
They were shooting in Las Vegas
and a friend of mine introduced me to
the line producers and he just…
I was glad to just be on the set.
He let me hang out on the set,
and watch Clint Eastwood direct,
and it was just
the most amazing experience.
And I thought…
…all movies made like the Clint Eastwood.
Which is, you know, one take.
One take, and he doesn’t say action.
“Okay, whenever you’re ready.”
Not like Martin Scorsese, who I love.
-He will do 50 takes, 60 takes,
a hundred takes.
-You know, but Clint Eastwood,
he finished the movie in 20 days,
16 day, whatever.
Just say, “Okay, we’re good enough,
let’s go. Let’s move on.
This used to be a public parking lot.
The city comes and makes a deal
with the hotel.
They said, “Okay, build a hotel here,
we’ll give you the land…”
“…but we want to make sure
that our residents park for free.”
The parking lot is underground.
Look what they created.
This is all residents.
You can bring your sandwich,
you can sit here all day.
Nobody can tell you to leave.
has a glass store down the street.
Look at this.
This is $2,000, $3,000, $5,000
for a pair of glasses.
-Lebanese-Armenian guy?
-That’s a guy you wouldn’t mess with,
just by the sounds of it.
How much a night here for rooms?
-Minimum $850.
-$850, okay.
-$850 minimum.
Hey guys.
[doormen greeting]
-Thanks, boss.
I’m gonna point out the obvious, Joseph.
No homeless people around these parts.
Once in a great while
I see somebody walking
but usually they don’t…
I don’t know, Beverly Hills…
-It’s not Santa Monica, that’s for sure.
-It’s not Santa Monica.
I have three homes in Venice.
I just sold one last week,
we’re just selling another one.
Selling them at a loss
because of the homeless.
They built…
I built these homes and they built
a homeless shelter across the street.
So who’s gonna buy a $5 million home
and you have a homeless shelter
across the street?
-So why do you think the state or the city
is buying the nice real estate
for those operations?
-It’s crazy.
-I tell you, many, many, many developers
tried to tell the city, Venice,
“Let me build it for you.”
“Let me give you another building.”
“Let me take that property and put,
you know, $5 million condos or something.”
“Take that money,
it will not cost you anything.”
but they will not do this, I don’t know.
I just don’t understand it.
Or I heard one case scenario
where the city said,
“Okay, we’ll let you do it
but you cannot have two entrances.”
One for the homeless, for free,
and the other one for $5 million
or $3 million condo.
Which is crazy.
There has to be a sustainable way
of taking care of the homeless.
Nobody should be homeless in this country.
-We’re so wealthy.
But I think when the government
handle the business they do it badly.
[woman laughing]
WOMAN: Hello.
PETER: Hello, how you doing?
CARRIE: Hi Peter, Carrie.
PETER: Carrie, nice to meet you.
CARRIE: You too.
My husband Jaymon.
-Jaymon, nice to meet you.
-This is my oldest friend, I’ve known her
before she knows her husband.
-We made a movie together in Canada.
Was that the Bruce Willis movie?
-That was the Wesley Snipes.
-Oh, Wesley Snipes and Jason Statham.
Jason Statham…
You look like Jason Statham.
PETER: I get that a lot, with the hat up.
Yeah, I’ll see ya later.
-See you soon.
-Bye-bye, take care.
WOMAN: Trying to get into a building…
COP: Is this a…
-You know the response time
for Beverly Hills is three minutes?
But they make a couple hundred thousand
to start I think.
-[surprised] Really?
-150, 180 to start.
-The detectives or whatever
make $600,000 a year.
They deserve it, you know.
-They put their life on the line.
A friend of mine owns this restaurant,
208 Rodeo, just the address.
If you want to spend two, three hundred,
$600,000 on a watch.
Here’s the place to do it.
A friend of mine ordered one
for $500,000 or $600,000
and they will not let him order one
until he become a customer.
So he had to buy another watch first.
-Oh jeez.
-Before he ordered
the $500,000, $600,000 watch.
[car chase on television]
PETER: What film is this?
-Called Epicenter.
-When did you shoot this?
-25 years ago.
No green screen,
no visual special effects, it’s all real.
You’re gonna see a car flipping.
There’s not one shot is computer generated.
-So you had some good drivers there, huh?
-Oh, really good drivers, yeah.
The camera’s underneath.
-Oh my God.
-Watch this, somebody inside that car.
-Somebody inside?
-Yeah, there’s a cage.
We built a cage around them.
You know, like a race cage.
We were the only independent film makers,
PM Entertainment, at the time,
that were capable of doing this.
I just went after a guy
named Spiro Razatos.
He is the biggest action director today.
He does The Fast and the Furious.
All the Marvel pictures, huge.
He’s the guy who did this.
Started with me.
He did about 35 movies with me.
We were very ambitious and we were
trying to imitate the big studio’s budget.
You know?
And we concentrate on action.
We just specialized in that.
If Warner Brothers, or Paramount,
or any of these studios
want to do a picture like this,
that scene will cost them $4 million.
It would take a week to shoot,
maybe two weeks to shoot.
-And it cost you guys 50 grand?
-50 grand, 75 grand.
-The Sweeper?
-Yeah, right here.
-That’s me.
-Oh, yeah.
-Yes, C. Thomas Howell
was a big star in the 90s.
There’s a camera on the motorcycle,
you know, going in.
This is real, look at this.
He makes the jump on the car.
How many times? Just once?
Now the whole car
is gonna go into the water.
He has to push the car away from him.
Look at this, he pushed the car.
He was going under the car, this guy.
He’s amazing.
-The stunt man?
Huge risks, huh? Those guys?
-Are they getting paid a ton for that?
-I think the biggest stunt I’ve ever paid
was $15,000 for one stunt.
-So that guy out there for the day?
-For the day, probably make $2,000.
-To risk his life multiple times?
And when I went to
The Fast and the Furious,
watching the same guy who did this.
They have a budget of $250 million.
They do one scene, cost $20 million.
One chase scene.
-Are the stunt men still as brave
as back in the day?
-I think they’re brave but now
they have the computer that helps them.
-And the reason The Fast and Furious
is so popular and does a billion dollars,
because the majority of it is real.
-It’s cliche and a bit corny sometimes
but do you think anyone can do
whatever they want?
-I honestly believe if you have the will,
and you want to work hard, you can do it.
You know, all these guys,
the stunt guy right here,
he’s the top guy in the world.
You know, he started in the church
with his mom, cleaning the church.
Couldn’t speak English, Greek.
He wanted to be a stunt man.
He started jumping
from one place to another.
He put the camera, he has the eye,
becomes, you know, top of his game.
-But you also have to know your skill.
I’m never going to be in the NBA
no matter how much I want it.
You have to know…
-Your limitations.
-Your limitations and what you’re good at.
-What can you do, what you can’t.
Yeah, but sometimes
not knowing your limitations,
you’ll surprise yourself, you know?
-You have five foot, two guys
who play in the NBA.
JOSEPH: What you’re gonna see now,
it’s something…
I don’t think it’s ever been done
in movie history.
What these guys did.
Watch this.
[fighting and grunting]
This is real. This is real.
This is down, there’s nothing but…
[fighting and grunting]
And Spiro thought of,
“Okay, let’s hang him and throw him down”
Watch this.
[ominous music]
This is not a computer.
He is anchored from his shoe
into safety if he falls.
And this is real. This is real.
[Peter surprised] What? What!?!?
JOSEPH: This is real.
-This is real.
[cable clanks]
PETER: What?
-This is real.
-I mean how many times did you test it?
-That’s it?
-We didn’t test it, they just did it.
I mean, they’re harnessed
from their sides obviously.
PETER: Thank you for today.
-Thank you, man. Thank you.
-That was awesome.
-I appreciate it.
You’re an inspiration, very cool guy.
And a look into a world
that most of us don’t see
and you did it in a very educational,
humble, and cool way.
So thank you for that.
-Thank you.
-All right, guy.
Anything else?
-That’s it.
-Do we want to promote anything?
-I have nothing to promote.
-Nothing to promote?
Okay, you have some hotels coming?
-I have a hotel coming
called Extended Stay.
Gold Extended Stay.
-That’s my dream,
the first one is in Vegas.
-Okay. All right.
So stay there, guys.
[both chuckling]
All right, until the next one.
-Okay, you take care.
♪ jazz ♪

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