Photos: Jay Leno Takes A Break From Retirement To Join Demonstrators At Beverly Hills Hotel
Jay Leno made an unusual public appearance today since he left television to join a group of protestors demonstrating outside of the Beverly Hills Hotel against a new set of sharia laws in Brunei. The tiny Southeast Asian country is an oil-rich sultanate that has been ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah since 1967, and the new laws include punishments of stoning and amputation for crimes such as adultery and homosexuality. The Beverly Hills Hotel and nearby Hotel Bel-Air are both owned by the sultan, one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Leno, who retired from his 22-year gig as host of The Tonight Show in February, was joined by his wife Mavis Leno and labor activist Dolores Huerta in leading the rally. The activist move was a rarity for Leno, who likely stayed out of controversial politics in order to not alienate his large audience. However, in July he was among many celebrity signers of an open letter calling for an end to the practice of solitary confinement in California's jail system. According to Variety, Leno called the issue of today's rally "common sense" and said the protesters were "not crazy left-wing wacko people."
His wife Mavis is a board member of Feminist Majority and has been actively involved in issues regarding women's rights in Afghanistan. In 1999, the Lenos donated $100,000 to Feminist Majority's campaign to stop gender apartheid in Afghanistan.
Despite having retired from his nightly routine of making topical jokes, Leno couldn't resist making reference to another story making headlines in Los Angeles. When clarifying that the rally was not against the employees and staff of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Leno said, "The people in the Beverly Hills Hotel are the Clippers. The sultan is Sterling."