The entertainment community recently placed on the black list one of the previously top-notch places to stage the most lavish of Hollywood events.
The luxurious Beverly Hills Hotel has played an integral role throughout the history of the entertainment business, catering to legendary figures from the Golden Age of cinema including John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and myriad other major celebrities.
This is no longer the case. The hotel is actually currently owned by a business entity that is under the control of the Sultan of Brunei, the ruler of a small Southeast Asian country who recently decreed into law a new penal code, which mandates that lesbians, gay men, adulterers, and blasphemers be stoned to death.
The news sparked a Hollywood awakening, which has led to protests outside the famed hotel. Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno surprised many observers when he personally participated in a demonstration.
“We hope maybe to draw attention to this and people go, OK, maybe I won't hold my event there until they change this. I mean, we have the economic pressure to apply,” Leno said.
The late-night host has a good deal of credibility on the issue. His wife Mavis has been at the forefront of those who publicly objected to the abuses of women by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Other public figures have voiced support for a boycott of the hotel including Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Osbourne, and Stephen Fry.
Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin Group, recently tweeted, “No @virgin employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights.”
A number of Hollywood groups have either called off or moved events from the hotel premises. The city of Beverly Hills has also voted to boycott the facility.
For decades Oscar-winning producer Arthur Cohn has hosted a pre-Academy Awards dinner party for a select group of Hollywood elites. Cohn will reportedly no longer be associating himself with the hotel.
DreamWorks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that his annual “Night Before the Oscars” charity event would not be held at the hotel either.
The entertainment business now appears to be unanimous in its view of the formerly prestigious destination of choice, and the hotel has virtually been placed on the elite community’s forbidden list.
Hollywood’s awareness of the brutality of the human rights abuses of Shariah law may have been somewhat slow in coming. However, the influence the community is able to exert on the global stage cannot be overstated, and the celebrity voices hold the promise of attaining significant progress in the advocacy of human rights worldwide.
What still needs to occur is a raising of awareness within the entertainment community concerning the inordinate amount of business that Hollywood continues to conduct with countries that also impose brutal Shariah laws including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a jurisdiction in which adulterers are stoned, gays are arrested and deported, and the media and Internet are censored.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are both part of the UAE. In 2007 Warner Brothers executed a multibillion-dollar agreement with Abu Dhabi investors for the development of movie theaters, hotels, and a theme park. The pact included a reported half-billion-dollar film fund and half-billion-dollar video game fund.
Abu Dhabi Media, an entity wholly owned by the UAE, has provided hundreds of millions in film financing to U.S. studios and production companies. As noted in a previous column of mine, the 2012 anti-fracking film, “Promised Land,” which stars Matt Damon, was financed by a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media.
Major Hollywood stars flock to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival and Dubai Film Festival. The Dubai Film Festival has featured such notable film stars as George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Cate Blanchett, Ben Affleck, Gerard Butler, Salma Hayek, and Richard Gere.
Many filmmakers have used the UAE in the past for their location shoots and continue to do so. Movies that have been filmed in the UAE include “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and the latest sequel to the “Fast & Furious” franchise, the former having been shot in Dubai and the latter currently filming there.
In March of 2014, recording artist, actress, and “American Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez performed in Dubai, and recording artist and actor Justin Timberlake is scheduled to perform in Abu Dhabi on May 23, 2014.
Former Vice President Al Gore, whose documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” was awarded an Oscar, took hundreds of millions of dollars from the government of Qatar (another Shariah law-imposing country) so that Current TV could be sold to Al Jazeera America.
Because the mainstream media has generally shied away from reporting honor killings, rapes, murders, and other nefarious activities, it could be that many of the celebrities who are now speaking out were previously unaware of the potential human rights abuses that were being sanctioned by law in these various countries.
The Sultan of Brunei’s pronouncement may be the catalyst for the development of a new understanding in Hollywood, one that entails an acknowledgement of the inherent evil that authoritarian extremist legal systems routinely impose.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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