By JAMES R. HAGERTY and GLENN R. SIMPSON
Ed McMahon, the longtime sidekick to television star Johnny Carson,
faces the possible loss of his Beverly Hills home to a foreclosure
action initiated by a unit of Countrywide Financial Corp.
Howard Bragman, a spokesman for Mr. McMahon, said late Tuesday that
his client is having “very fruitful discussions” with the lender and
hopes to find a resolution. It isn’t clear whether that would allow
the 85-year-old Mr. McMahon and his wife, Pamela, to remain in the
A Countrywide spokeswoman said the lender couldn’t comment in such
cases “due to privacy issues.”
Mr. McMahon, a jovial fixture of American television for decades, is
one of the most prominent people caught up in a wave of mortgage
defaults that has devastated low-income areas, suburbia and even a
few posh gated communities, such as the one where the McMahons live.
U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson, a California Democrat, recently lost a
home in Sacramento to a foreclosure. Rep. Richardson didn’t respond
to requests for comment.
ReconTrust, a unit of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, on Feb.
28 filed a notice of default on a $4.8 million Countrywide loan
backed by Mr. McMahon’s home. The notice was filed with the Los
Angeles County Recorder’s Office but hasn’t previously come to light.
According to the filing, Mr. McMahon was then about $644,000 in
arrears on the loan. It isn’t clear whether Countrywide still owns
the loan or is acting on behalf of investors who acquired it. Public
records also show that Mr. McMahon had a separate home-equity line of
credit from Countrywide of up to $300,000 secured by the same house.
Mr. McMahon’s home has been on the market for about two years, his
real-estate agent Alex Davis said. Mr. Davis said the price had been
reduced, but he couldn’t immediately provide details. The Christie’s
Great Estates Web site, which includes homes listed by Mr. Davis,
lists the asking price at $5.75 million and says it has a canyon view
and a master-bedroom suite with his and her bathrooms.
Mr. McMahon broke his neck in a fall about 18 months ago and hasn’t
been able to work, Mr. Bragman said. That health problem, along with
the weak housing market and economy, has forced Mr. McMahon into
foreclosure proceedings, Mr. Bragman said.
The McMahons “understand that they are in the same situation as
hundreds of thousands of other hard-working Americans, and their
hearts go out to them,” Mr. Bragman said.
It isn’t inevitable that the McMahons will lose their home to
foreclosure. Lenders often ease terms on loans or provide more time
for borrowers to catch up. Lenders also sometimes agree to accept
less than the full amount due on the loan if the borrower can find a
buyer for the home.
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