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Hollywood Glamour Is Pandemic-Proof at the Polo Lounge


LOS ANGELES — Hollywood is down in the dumps. Oscar hopefuls like “King Richard,” “Nightmare Alley” and “West Side Story” have sputtered, and everyone knows that, studio spin aside, the Omicron variant is only partly to blame.What about those stunning Spider-Man grosses? Sure, great, whatever — another superhero hit. It doesn’t change the fact that one storied studio, 20th Century Fox, vanished in 2019 and another, the venerable Warner Bros., is slashing theatrical output by almost half. Unless regulators do something unexpected, Amazon will soon swallow Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Streaming services are ending a moviegoing era.“It’s over,” a glum film executive said at a holiday fete. “TV won.”But there is at least one place where Hollywood feels undiminished. Step into the 88-year-old Polo Lounge — as a deluge of film V.I.P.s have done lately, defying a lingering boycott over its owner, the sultan of Brunei, and his enacting of Shariah law in his country — and return to a time when movies indisputably commanded the culture. Outside the Beverly Hills Hotel, which houses the Polo Lounge, change is washing through moviedom with terrifying speed. (Hollywood’s prize system, long a crucial promotional platform, is crumbling, with the near-abandonment of the Go …

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