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The Hollywood Reporter has notified the Beverly Hills Hotel that it will not hold its annual Women in Entertainment breakfast there because of the hotel’s ties to the Sultan of Brunei, who has instituted a severe new penal code based on Sharia law that calls for death by stoning for homosexuals and adulterers.
The event, which is held in December concurrent to The Hollywood Reporter’s reveal of its annual list of the 100 most powerful women in entertainment, has taken place at the hotel for the past 20 years. At last year’s breakfast, Oprah Winfrey was honored with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, presented by Winfrey’s friend Maria Shriver. Other attendees included Jane Fonda, Jimmy Kimmel, Anne Sweeney, Amy Pascal and Nancy Dubuc. Lansing’s own husband, William Friedkin, has been among those calling for a hotel boycott, tweeting, “I’m in total support of the boycott against Brunei’s holdings in the U.S. for their unconscionable acts against gay people.”
“The recent despicable decisions by the Sultan of Brunei make it impossible for us to consider moving forward in any way with any hotel that is part of the Dorchester Collection,” said Janice Min, co-president and chief creative officer of Guggenheim Media’s Entertainment Group, which publishes The Hollywood Reporter. “We have huge respect for the local staff and management of the Beverly Hills Hotel and would like to thank them for two decades of partnership. We hope one day to be able to work together again.”
THR has not disclosed where the event will relocate to, but a search is underway for a new location.
What began as a grassroots movement two weeks ago when designers Brian Atwood and Peter Som and Los Angeles boutique owner Cameron Silver asked their Instagram and Twitter followers to boycott the Dorchester Collection of hotels, to which the Beverly Hills Hotel belongs, has quickly gathered momentum, with prominent organizations dropping plans to hold dinners and fundraisers at the landmark hotel on Sunset Boulevard.
The Dorchester Collection is owned by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah through the Brunei Investment Agency. Last week, Brunei became the first East Asian country to adopt sharia law, which calls for flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning for crimes such as rape, adultery and sodomy.
Addressing the boycott, Dorchester Collection CEO Christopher Cowdray said, “While we recognize people’s concerns, we believe this boycott should not be directed to our hotels and dedicated employees. The economic impact of this not only affects our loyal team members but extends to the local community, our valued partners and suppliers.”
He made the larger point that in a global economy, consumers are often unaware of who invests various brands and that state-owned investment funds from foreign countries frequently invest in American companies. Speaking of the Dorchester Collection hotels, he said, “We will continue to honor their iconic heritage and remain committed to our core values of integrity, equality and diversity.”
On Monday, the Motion Picture & Television Fund said that it would not hold its glitzy Oscar-eve fundraising party, the Night Before, at the hotel. Other events that have moved from the hotel to other locations include the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Global Women’s Rights Awards, the Independent School Alliance for Minority Awards and a Teen Line fundraiser honoring Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Pascal. The Outgiving Conference, a meeting of LGBT donors, was the first event to pull up stakes. And the Human Rights Campaign Fund has urged other groups to follow suit.
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