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From Anchor Marla Tellez

Boycott Beverly?

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Shortly after I arrived in Los Angeles in December, I read a book about the king of late-night TV, the one and only Johnny Carson. In it, I learned Carson was a frequent visitor, sometimes a resident, of the historic Beverly Hills Hotel. Intrigued by its mystique and Hollywood allure, I ventured to the palm tree-surrounded property, tucked away on Sunset Blvd. Immediately, I was taken by the venue. From its red carpet entryway, classy but sexy lobby, perfectly muted decor, and its iconic Polo Lounge, I was not disappointed, until now.

As you may have heard, the Beverly Hills Hotel is owned by the Sultan of Brunei and his investment agency. The problem is the Sultan is instituting a new penal code, within the Southeast Asian nation, that will make gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death, flogging and severing limbs. The news has spread like wildfire and inspired several prominent organizations and fundraisers to cancel their planned events at the hotel. The Sultan’s anti-gay stance has also inspired celebrities, such as Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, to protest and boycott the property. Leno is part of the twitter campaign “#StopTheSultan" and Ellen recently tweeted “I won’t be visiting the Hotel Bel-Air or the Beverly Hills Hotel until this is resolved.” Oh yeah, did I mention the Brunei Investment Agency also owns Hotel Bel-Air? The controversy has also reached the Beverly Hills City council which will vote on a resolution tonight to condemn the government of Brunei and urge it to divest itself from the hotel.

To be fair, the CEO of the Brunei-owned Dorchester Collection, that manages the hotel, says his company is being unfairly singled out and the views of the Sultan don’t influence how the hotel conducts business or treats its guests.

Maybe so, but I can’t help but take a stand and, as much as I enjoy the Pink Palace, as it's affectionately (and ironically) called, boycott The Beverly Hills Hotel until something changes. My time and money will be better spent not supporting a government that embraces such ignorant and inhumane laws and I commend the groups and people who are distancing themselves, as well. Quite frankly, news of the Sultan and his ties to both The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, have caused these majestic properties to lose their luster. But, I do hope they get their shine back.

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