4th UPDATE: Here likely will be the next step in the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Bel-Air Hotel. ICM Partners has released an internal email telling its staffers that expenses will not be reimbursed if they come from either of the two hotels. ICM Partners joins a growing protest that has left the normally bustling Beverly Hills and Bel-Air Hotels with the ghostlike emptiness of The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel as the entertainment industry protests the harsh laws that are being enacted by hotel owner the Sultan of Brunei in his home country, measures that include death by stoning for gays and adulterers. Deadline will keep a running track of studios and agencies that take similar steps to put pressure on the Sultan. This is an unfortunate development for all of the hard workers at both hotels who rely on tips to feed their families, but this protest shows no signs of abating.
3RD UPDATE, Tuesday, May 6, 7:40 PM: Now there are lawyers involved. The Beverly Hills Bar Association is the latest group to cancel events at the Beverly Hills Hotel amid the growing boycott of the venue. The BHBA said today that it has yanked all of its upcoming events in protest of the harsh laws enacted last week by the hotel’s owner, the Sultan of Brunei, in his home country. The bar association’s move comes three weeks after its biggest annual showbiz-related shindig, the Entertainment Lawyer of the Year Award. Read the BHBA’s statement at the bottom of the original post.
2ND UPDATE, May 5, 3:11 PM: The Feminist Majority Foundation, which is among the groups that have pulled events from the Beverly Hills Hotel, staged a rally across the street from the venue today. Its Global Women’s Rights Awards is co-chaired by Jay and Mavis Leno, and Conan Nolan’s Twitter photo shows the former Tonight Show host speaking during the protest.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: The Night Before event has followed suit and pulled its annual event from the Beverly Hills Hotel, as expected. Unless the hotel changes ownership or the Sultan changes the law, the event will be at another venue for the first time since its 2003 inception, insiders said. The board made the decision Friday, and they haven’t yet decided where to go. They slipped it to THR because it is a sponsor of the event. MPTF statement is at end of the story.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: Five days before its annual luncheon fundraiser this Wednesday, Teen Line has abruptly moved the event honoring Amy Pascal and others from the Beverly Hills Hotel. It is the latest event cancellation since hotel owner, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, announced a death-by-stoning decree for gays and adulterers in his home country. The Teen Line event, held each year at the iconic hotel, will be moving to the Sony lot. As prestige events continue to move to protest barbaric human rights violations, many in town feel that it is no longer a matter of if, but rather when, the Motion Picture & Television Fund‘s Night Before The Oscars event looks for a new venue for what is considered the preeminent pre-Oscar event.
Jenny Pascal, the training director of Teen Line who is the sister of the Sony Pictures co-chairman and an organizer of the charity who’s also being honored, confirmed that Teen Line executive director Elaine Leader made the decision days after the Sultan’s decree. It happened so late in the proceedings that the charity forfeited a $60,000 down payment. Fortunately, Sony Pictures stepped up to offer to host the event on its lot, and Wolfgang Puck stepped up and has agreed to cater the event and eat the costs himself. Aside from the Pascal sisters, Teen Line is honoring several others including Karen Buehler, a mother who, after losing her child to suicide, has become a hugely important part of Teen Line and its outreach program. The organization was formed nearly 40 years ago to give extensive training– 65 hours over 13 weeks — to young people who counsel troubled teens contemplating suicide or dealing with such devastating issues as child abuse and drug addiction. Jenny Pascal told Deadline that forfeiting $60,000 is a blow for a small charity always scratching for funds, but the braintrust felt there was no choice.
“There was no way in good conscience that we could hold the event at the hotel in light of the plan that the Sultan of Brunei announced last Thursday,” Pascal said. The generosity of Sony and Puck have helped offset the down payment loss, but maybe some of those who’ve been organizing protests against the hotel since last week will step up and write checks.
Pressure on the Beverly Hills Hotel has been growing since it became known is was among the venues owned by the Dorchester Collection, an enterprise backed by the Sultan which reportedly includes the posh Hotel Bel-Air. Virgin Group owner Richard Branson added his voice to the outcry, tweeting that none of his employees will stay in Dorchester-owned hotels “until the Sultan abides by basic human rights.”
After the recent outcry against and banishment of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for merely uttering racist comments in a private conversation with his mistress he didn’t know was taping, this comparatively life-and-death situation in Brunei figures to make this an even more serious situation as days go by, hurting the prestigious hotel.
Here is the MPTF statement on the Night Before Event removal:
Representatives of MPTF met with the leadership of the Dorchester Collection and executives from The Beverly Hills Hotel to convey our deep concern about the recent enactment of laws in Brunei that call for violent punishment, including amputation and death by stoning, against those engaging in same-sex activity and extramarital sexual relations, and those committing adultery. We expressed very clearly that we cannot condone or tolerate these harsh and repressive laws and as a result support a business owned by the Sultan of Brunei or a Brunei sovereign fund associated with the government of Brunei.
The Beverly Hills Hotel has been an incredible part of Hollywood history and a great supporter of many charities, including MPTF. We sincerely regret that the employees and management of the hotel may suffer because of our response and the response of many other organizations that have aligned against this outrageous and unacceptable legal code. It is our most sincere hope that change will occur and that we can once again continue our longstanding partnership with The Beverly Hills Hotel.
Bob Pisano, Chairman, MPTF Board of Directors
Mark Fleischer, Vice-Chairman, MPTF Board of Directors
Bob Beitcher, President/CEO, MPTF
On behalf of the MPTF Board of Directors
Here is the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s statement regarding the Government of Brunei:
The Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) announced today that it has cancelled all upcoming programs and events at the Beverly Hills Hotel, including the BHBA’s 60th Annual California Supreme Court Luncheon on June 3rd.
The BHBA is taking this action in condemnation of the hotel’s owner, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, for his introduction and implementation of harsh criminal laws, including the death penalty and stoning, against homosexuals, adulterers and others in the country of Brunei.
Such violations of human rights are in direct contravention of the long held and strongly advocated principles of the Bar Association. For over 82 years, the BHBA has fought for justice both here and beyond the borders of Beverly Hills.
The Beverly Hills Bar Association joins in calling on the Government of Brunei to reverse such barbaric laws and actions.
The BHBA regrets any adverse impact this decision may have on the management and staff of the Hotel, with whom the BHBA has enjoyed a good and positive professional relationship for many years.