Hollywood shunned the beloved Beverly Hills Hotel spot in 2014 over its owner the Sultan of Brunei’s implementation of anti-gay laws, but the industry gradually has crept its way back to the old-school eatery, now at No. 6 on THR’s annual list.
“It’s back,” declares WME partner Richard Weitz.
The movie musical? Jazzercise? The Hummer? No, what Weitz is referring to is the Polo Lounge.
For a while, it wasn’t looking too good for the old-school haunt at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It had plummeted in The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Power Lunch survey to No. 22 from No. 2 between 2014 and 2015.
That was after a boycott led by the Human Rights Campaign — in response to the Sultan of Brunei’s new anti-gay policies in his country — gained traction.
At the height of the protest, in May 2014, the restaurant was a ghost town, as evidenced by a THR lunchtime visit. Stars like Jay Leno showed up to protest the implementation of Sharia law in Brunei and major philanthropic events chaired by the likes of J.J. Abrams and Jeffrey Katzenberg relocated to other facilities.
Ellen DeGeneres tweeted that she wouldn’t visit until the issue was resolved. Longtime guests Elton John and David Furnish stated, “We can’t lie in a suite at the Beverly Hills and ignore the fact that the hotel is stained with the blood of gay people.”
Yet the shunning was short-lived, whether due to questions over its efficacy or merely the lure of those McCarthy salads (“a favorite,” says philanthropist Barbara Davis).
By last year, visitors who are either out or maintain close ties to the LGBTQ community had returned to the hotel, including Megan Ellison, Miley Cyrus and Dita Von Teese.
Now the love fest is fully in session once again for what awards consultant Lisa Taback calls the “iconic” patio and reality TV producer Arthur Smith describes as “an hour of vacation in the middle of day.”
Previous posts on the boycott here: