The Termineater

The man who plugged the hole in Labour's finances presides over a restaurant empire worth $3 billion. Planet Hollywood boss Robert Earl, says Ian Burrell, has amassed his fortune by an ability to rub shoulders with the stars and a talent to persuade his clients that they can do the same.

He is Mr Eatertainment. A five-foot-five, squeaky-voiced north Londoner who has gone from waiting tables at The Savoy to become the king of themed restaurants.

Robert Earl's influence on Nineties global culture is such that the presence of one of his Planet Hollywood burger joints is now widely-regarded as a key credential for anywhere claiming status as a world city.

New York had the first back in 1991. Others have opened in Paris, London, Moscow, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Sydney, each with queues of people prepared to wait an hour or more to be seated.

Mr Earl's skill has been to recognise the unceasing public desire to spend their leisure time surrounded by the images and accoutrements of the rich and famous. He is able to provide them with this environment because of his own astonishing ability to ingratiate himself with the stars themselves. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Demi Moore were all persuaded to become shareholders in Planet Hollywood and are almost guaranteed to turn up at the opening of any new addition to the chain.

The Planet Hollywood experience involves dining amongst such knick-knackery as Jayne Mansfield's swimsuit, Marilyn Monroe's underwear, or even the pump used by Alec Guinness to detonate the explosives under The Bridge Over the River Kwai.

Real aficionados collect Planet Hollywood T-shirts from the various branches around the world. Some will even part with pounds 195 for a PH leather bomber jacket.

The cocktail list is a further reminder of your famous hosts. The "Terminator" (pounds 5.50) is described as a cyborg's mixture of vodka, rum, gin, Grand Marnier, Tia Maria, Kahlua, sweet and sour, cranberry juice and draught beer that will leave you saying "I'll be back".

Though critics dismissed his project as "Planet Hype", Mr Earl, 46, has a long term view. He has already established new contacts with rising stars like Will Smith, Johnny Depp and George Clooney.

When he opened in Melbourne, two months ago, Aussie cricketer Shane Warne (another partner of Mr Earl's) arrived on a Harley-Davidson, basketball star Shaquille O'Neal rapped to the crowd, and athlete Michael Johnson glided across the red carpet before Sly finally arrived to the inevitable soundtrack of the Rocky theme.

No wonder Peter Mandelson turned to Mr Earl for help when he was looking to drum up celebrity interest for the relaunching of the flagging Millennium Project.

By 2000, Earl hopes to sit astride a galactic empire of more than 100 Planet Hollywoods. "I want to create the largest and most successful leisure company in the world. I want the recognition of that more than the cash but I see no reason why I can't make this group worth $20 billion [pounds 13 billion]," he says.

Aside from the big names of film and sports, Mr Earl has been able to attract the financial backing of some of the world's wealthiest men. Ong Beng Seng, the Singaporean billionaire, is one of his partners. Another is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the nephew of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

The billionaire Prince has joined Earl in another venture, the Official All Star Cafe, a sports themed restaurant chain backed by tennis stars Andre Agassi and Monica Seles. When the London branch opens at the Pepsi Trocadero next year Tiger Woods and Alan Shearer are expected to attend.

Earl is the son of a 1950s crooner and a mother who ran a clothing business. Now he has a home in Orlando, Florida and one in St John's Wood, London. As a catering student he cut his entrepreneurial teeth by founding a string of themed banqueting halls before the Rank Organisation recruited him to develop the international chain of Hard Rock cafes, which are now his main rival.

Among his other plans is a chain called "Chefs of the World", backed by some of the world's most famous cooks and incorporating a television channel and cookery school.

Last month it emerged that he was linking up with MTV, the cable TV network, to create a giant music and entertainment venue in the centre of London, called the Asylum.

The budget for the launch party, which Madonna is lined-up to attend, is pounds 1m - the same amount Mr Earl paid to bale out the Labour Party.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Graduate / Junior C# Developer

    £18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

    £65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

    Teaching Assistants needed in Chester

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teaching Assistants needed in Cheshire...

    Male PE Teacher

    £85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits