By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Thursday, March 24, 2016
The running list of media companies against HB 757, the so-called “religious liberty” bill:
Time Warner (includes HBO and Turner properties such as TNT, TBS, Adult Swim, truTV, CNN, HLN and Cartoon Network)
AMC Networks (AMC, IFC, Sundance)
Discovery (TLC, Discovery, Travel)
Lionsgate, independent film company
21st Century Fox (including Fox, Fox News)
The Weinstein Company, independent film company
Viacom (includes Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, BET, CMT)
Disney/Marvel (includes ESPN, ABC)
CBS (also includes the CW and Showtime)
Tyler Perry Studios
Here’s the story:
Over two days, virtually every major Hollywood production house has come out against Georgia’s “religious liberty” bill, calling on Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the legislation that passed last week.
New York-based Time Warner, which oversees Atlanta’s Turner Entertainment and CNN operations, said the bill “clearly violates the values and principles of inclusion and the ability of all people to live and work free from discrimination.” The Weinstein Company – known for its array of Oscar-winning films – said it “will not stand behind sanctioning the discrimination of LGBT people or any American.” Others who have jumped in against the bill include Lionsgate and 21st Century Fox.
Yesterday, AMC Networks, Disney/Marvel and Viacom condemned the bill. And creative folks got into the act, signing a common letter through the Human Rights Campaign promising to take their business elsewhere if he signed it. Among those who were part of the statement: producers Greg Berlanti (“Dawson’s Creek,” “Arrow,” “The Flash,”), Lee Daniels (“Empire”) and Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” “American Horror Story”), actresses Anne Hathaway, Marisa Tomei and Julianne Moore and film executive Harvey Weinstein.
UPDATE: 3/28/2016: Norman Reedus of “The Walking Dead” told Deadline.com that he was also against the bill.
I definitely think he shouldn’t sign it. I support the network and I support all the other companies that are against it. My fingers are crossed and I’m hoping for the best that he won’t sign it.
According to Variety, the Weinsteins have threatened to move its Lee Daniels-directed biopic of Richard Pryor, which is set to begin filming in Georgia before the end of the year. The film stars Oprah Winfrey, Eddie Murphy, Kate Hudson, Mike Epps and Tracy Morgan. (Oprah just finished shooting her upcoming drama “Greenleaf” for OWN here. Epps shot tow seasons of Starz’ “Survivor’s Remorse.”)
Comcast NBC Universal’s statement came to me at 3:08 p.m.:
“At Comcast NBCUniversal we are proud of our record of inclusion and stand against discrimination of all forms. We join the voices that urge Governor Deal to protect Georgia from any discriminatory laws.”
And in the evening, Netflix sent me this:
“Netflix is an inclusive company. We recently completed two films and a series in Georgia and had planned on filming two series there in the coming months. Should any legislation allowing discriminatory practice be signed into state law, we will move our productions elsewhere.”
Starz, CBS, Sony and Discovery also sent out similar statements.
The last studio I was able to get a statement from was Atlanta’s own Tyler Perry:
At Tyler Perry Studios, we believe in inclusion and equality for all people. We do not tolerate bigotry, division and discrimination. We have tremendous confidence in Governor Deal’s leadership and ability to continue to lead our great state forward and urge him to veto this bill.
After steady growth the past eight years, Georgia is now the third largest film and TV production state domestically, only behind California and New York. But that could shift quickly.
There’s no doubt California would be happy to take back the business Georgia has absorbed the past few years although its incentives program is more limited than that in Georgia. Canada also has a generous program that has drawn plenty of production. Plus, states such as Louisiana and New Mexico are still competitive in the tax credit game.
And certainly, the creatives (most who are based in Los Angeles) would probably prefer if they could keep production closer to home.
The sponsors of the bill say it protects individuals and religious organizations that do not believe in same-sex marriage. Opponents see it as a doorway to discrimination against gays.
Will Hollywood force Deal’s hand? It’s hard to say but businesses of all stripes have been lobbying him hard. Supporters are also flooding his office with emails and calls.
If anything, Deal has been incredibly supportive of the sweetened tax credits that have brought in all this business since 2008. He has until May 3 to decide what to do with the bill.