GOOD MORNING: The Sultan of Brunei had a front row, closeup seat Saturday for the regal reopening of his Beverly Hills Hotel — he viewed the gala goings-on “live” via satellite to his own (pink?) palace. A glamorous Kathleen Kinmont femcee fronted for the sultan’s crew, direct-beaming the action via bird to Brunei. The action started under the signature porte-cochere where 60 parking attendants were ready to whisk cars to the new, underground parking areas. As guests disembarked from cars and limos, the hotel’s CEO and general manager Kerman Beriker greeted one and all. Guests then exchanged reminiscences with us at our microphone. (None mentioned the Local 11 pickets on Sunset Boulevard, but Beriker said current employees voted down union affiliation.) Everyone expressed joy that the hotel did not become a disappearing L.A. landmark like the Ambassador hotel, with its famed Coconut Grove, Chasen’s, etc. Later, in ceremonies in the hotel’s dazzling new Crystal Room, Beriker and representatives of the sultan’s Brunei Investment Agency (which also owns London’s Dorchester) assured that the “integrity” of the hotel was uppermost in the $100 million face lift. (I gave you a full preview of the rooms two months ago, when final details were being made.) Saturday night a better-than-anticipated crowd of 1,200 (estimated) saw the sparkling finished product. A mammoth media blitz covered the event. Print and TV crews lined the red carpet into the hotel in numbers far exceeding any Hollywood event, other than the major awards shows. Cameras also recorded the acceptance for the night’s charity, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation, by Bruce Davis, followed by the pouring of Moet & Chandon into a cascade of 4,000 champagne glasses. It was finaled by the official ribbon-cutting at the hotel entrance by Beriker, the sultan’s reps and Tony Curtis. The Intl. Children’s Choir, plus Beverly Hills youngsters chorused the official opening.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS RECALLED by some of the first-nighters: Angie Dickinson said it was at the hotel where she got her first kiss from the man who later became her husband — Burt Bacharach … Eric Roberts said he and his wife (now of three years) had a “romantic liaison” there … Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin said they lived at the hotel while their home was being built. The Martins arrived with Georgiana and Ricardo Montalban — he’s still on a walker … Robert Culp admitted the Polo Lounge was his favorite “watering hole” and added, “But I don’t do any ‘watering’ anymore!”… And talking about “watering,” Ernie Borgnine recalled an incident at the Polo Lounge when he challenged Duke Wayne with, “Are you afraid to work with real actors?”… Buddy Hackett admitted he once left the pool in swimming trunks and plunked himself down in the middle of the lobby … Bob Stack reminded he was one of the real polo players who bent an elbow at the Polo Lounge after matches at the Will Rogers Polo Field … And Mickey Rooney reminded he was the only one on hand who worked in movies with Will Rogers … Dick Zanuck recalled going to the hotel with his father, Darryl, after polo matches … Milton Berle claimed he was at the hotel back in 1924, when he was on the Keith Circuit … Previous BevHills Hotel owner Marvin Davis (who sold the hotel to the sultan for a reported $50 million profit?) wished him well on the redo … Walter Mirisch, past Acad prez, also expressed appreciation for the return of an L.A. landmark … Former hotel residents Joe and Nancy Kanter were impressed the hotel gave them permanent, private phone and fax numbers, should they return. Former hotel guests also received gold keys to the public areas, pool, fitness rooms, etc.
THE OLDER AND YOUNGER WERE ON HAND to roam the rooms, sample the varied menus , take in the minishows and music everywhere. They included Francis Coppola — who said he used to take his children to the hotel … George Sidney said he once urged his boss, Louis B. Mayer, to buy the hotel … Oscar winners there included Karl Malden, Kathy Bates, nominee Nina Foch … Plus directors Paul Maslansky, Robert Townsend, producers Chuck Fries, Marc Neufeld,actors Peter Falk, James Woods, Buddy Ebsen, Eddie Albert, Lloyd Bridges, Beau Bridges, Brock Peters, Dyan Cannon, James Caan, Roddy McDowall, Bruce Dern, Tawny Little and Ron Silver, Dina Merrill and Ted Hartley. From the music world, Jay Livingston and wife, Shirley, were among those enjoying the big band of Jack Sheldon in the Crystal Room where Herbie Hancock joined to play “The Blues” and “At Last” with Jack joining in singing! Also there, Carol Connors, Pia Zadora, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Katharine Kramer and Fred Hayman, who once managed the Ambassador and Beverly Hilton hotels before becoming a landmark on Rodeo Drive … Also there, Jay Leno, who promised there would be more of the “Dancing Itos” on upcoming shows. Young Christian Slater was there solo. Others on hand, Jackie Bisset, Felisa Vanoff and Martin Manulis, the Dick Crennas, Lee Minnelli and Curtis Harrington, Deanna Lund (sans Larry King), Seymour Cassell, Earl Holliman, William Windom, Jackie Collins, Tess Harper, Susan Anspach and Ray Katz, Richard Anderson, Anne Archer, Kevin McCarthy, Sugar Ray Leonard, Harvey Korman. Dominick Dunne — who was there Saturday night — was back again Sunday morning for breakfast. And we’ll be back again at the Polo Lounge where Nino (Osti) will save me my favorite booth for interviews.
FOLLOWING FRIDAY’S SESSION WITH JUDGE ITO in chambers, where Dove publisher Michael Viner was asked if names of jurors are noted in “Diary of an O.J. Juror” by Michael Knox, Viner headed for the ABA convention in Chi where he revealed yet a third book based on O.J. Simpson trial principals. This one will be “In Praise of Justice: Letters to Mark Fuhrman and Responses,” written by Fuhrman and his attorney Bob Tourtelot. It’s based on 8,000-plus letters Detective Fuhrman received after his court appearances. The book will be out in August. Meanwhile, the “Juror” book’s out in a couple of weeks. Viner — with attorney Pierce O’Donnell — standing on First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, refused to divulge contents of the Knox book in Ito’s chambers in the presence of prosecution and defense teams … Alfre Woodard’s the judge who presides over the sensational murder trial in “Primal Fear,” in which Richard Gere’s the defense attorney and Laura Linney the tough prosecutor. Woodard received the Liberty Foundation’s Upton Sinclair Award on Thursday at the BevWilshire and Friday she receives the Women In Film’s Crystal Award. Kate Capshaw femcees the awards at the Century Plaza. Other awardees are: Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Kathleen Kennedy, Gillian Armstrong and a posthumous award to Elizabeth Glaser … WB has given the go-ahead to exec producer Ernie Chambers to set Tim McCanlies to script the “Dennis the Menace” sequel. And Fox Family Films has given Chambers the greenlight to set a writer for the feature version of Russell Myers’ comic strip “Broom Hilda.”