Hollywood is coming out in force against House Bill 757, the anti-LGBT so-called “religious freedom” bill that passed both chambers of the Georgia legislature and now sits in Gov. Nathan Deal’s hands. First it was Disney and Marvel threatening to boycott the state should the governor sign the bill into law, and now there appears to be a snowball effect as several other major studios, entertainment industry leaders and unions have joined the fight.
The Weinstein Company, Fox, Viacom, AMC (which films the blockbuster TV show “The Walking Dead” in Georgia), Starz, Lionsgate and Time Warner are the latest media companies to oppose the bill. Time Warner says the bill “clearly violates the values and principles of inclusion and the ability of all people to live and work free from discrimination,” while the Weinstein Company says it “will not stand behind sanctioning the discrimination of LGBT people or any American.”
The Weinstein Company also threatened to move a Lee Daniels-directed biopic of Richard Pryor starring Oprah Winfrey, Eddie Murphy, Kate Hudson, Mike Epps and Tracy Morgan.
“We have plans in place to begin filming Lee Daniels’ new film in Georgia later this year, but will move the production if this unlawful bill is enacted,” the Weinstein Company said in a statement. “We hope Governor Deal will veto bill HB 757 and not allow sanctioned bigotry to become law in Georgia.”
Here are the full statements from the other companies, who stopped short of a boycott but voiced opposition per The Hollywood Reporter:
“As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible. We applaud Governor Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well.”
“Viacom is proud to champion diversity and acceptance, which are core values of our company. We have enjoyed doing business in Georgia for many years and we urge Governor Deal to continue to resist and reject the patently discriminatory laws being proposed.”
“Starz is an inclusionary company and strongly opposes discrimination in any form, against anyone. As a proud production partner in Georgia for several years, we urge Governor Deal to show the same leadership he has in the past and reject this divisive legislation.”
“On behalf of 21st Century Fox’s many creative partners and colleagues who choose to film their projects in the beautiful state of Georgia, we join the growing coalition of businesses in asking Governor Deal to veto this bill.”
“Lionsgate has deep roots in the State of Georgia in our film, television and location-based entertainment businesses. As a Company committed to diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance, we urge the Governor of Georgia to veto the deplorable and regressive legislation (House Bill 757) that has been sent to him. We take pride in our relationship with the people of Georgia and want to ensure that we can continue to offer our employees and talent there a working environment consistent with our policies and values.”
“At Time Warner, diversity in all its forms is core to our value system and to the success of our business. We strongly oppose the discriminatory language and intent of Georgia’s pending religious liberty bill, which clearly violates the values and principles of inclusion and the ability of all people to live and work free from discrimination.
“All of our divisions – HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner – have business interests in Georgia, but none more than Turner, an active participant in the Georgia Prospers campaign, a coalition of business leaders committed to a Georgia that welcomes all people. Georgia bill HB 757 is in contradiction to this campaign, to the values we hold dear, and to the type of workplace we guarantee to our employees. We urge Governor Deal to exercise his veto.”
The Human Rights Campaign also unveiled a list of entertainment industry leaders who will boycott the state should Gov. Deal sign the bill into law. It includes Dustin Lance Black, Kristin Chenoweth, Lee Daniels, Anne Hathaway, Seth MacFarlane, Julianne Moore, Ryan Murphy, Aaron Sorkin, Marisa Tomei and Gus Van Sant.
As leaders in the entertainment industry, we have deep concerns about H.B. 757, which would sanction discrimination against LGBT people and others in Georgia.
As you know, Atlanta is often referred to as the Hollywood of the South. During the last fiscal year, at least 248 films and television productions were shot in Georgia, adding at least $1.7 billion in direct spending to the state’s economy. Additionally, the entertainment industry helped to bring more than 100 businesses to Georgia through relocation or expansion in the past fiscal year. Only two states — California and New York — have a larger entertainment industry footprint and both have statewide non-discrimination laws on the books. Unfortunately, Georgia not only lacks such a law, but could soon move from a bad situation to worse with H.B. 757.
We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discrimination is signed into state law.
We urge you to veto H.B. 757 and send a strong message that Georgia will not tolerate discrimination against citizens, employees and visitors to the state.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent issue.
Ali Adler, Writer and Producer Greg Berlanti, Writer and Producer Matt Bomer, Actor & Simon Halls, Publicist Dustin Lance Black, Screenwriter and Filmmaker Bradley Bredeweg, Executive Producer and Showrunner Kristin Chenoweth, Actress and Singer Diablo Cody, Writer, Producer and Director Bruce Cohen, Producer Lee Daniels, Producer and Director Lucy Fisher, Co-Head, Red Wagon Entertainment Dana Fox, Writer and Producer John Goldwyn, Producer James Gunn, Writer and Director Anne Hathaway, Actress Alan Hergott, Entertainment Attorney Kevin Huvane, Talent Agent Nina Jacobson, Producer Dan Jinks, Producer Kathy Kennedy, Producer Zoe Kravitz, Actress Bryan Lourd, Talent Agent Seth MacFarlane, Writer, Producer and Director Laurence Mark, Producer Frank Marshall, Producer and Director Brendan Mason, Producer Neil Meron, Producer Julianne Moore, Actress Ryan Murphy, Producer Peter Paige, Executive Producer and Showrunner Rob Reiner, Actor, Director and Producer Sarah Schechter, Producer Adam Shankman, Director and Producer Aaron Sorkin, Writer Marisa Tomei, Actress Gus Van Sant, Producer and Director Bob Weinstein, Producer Harvey Weinstein, Producer and Film Studio Executive Doug Wick, Co-Head, Red Wagon Entertainment Craig Zadan, Producer and Director
And Ric Reitz, president of the Atlanta Local chapter of SAG-AFTRA, the labor union representing the film, television and radio industries, posted a video message aimed at the governor voicing opposition to the bill on theological, legal and economic grounds.
“Supporters of the current bill say they’re being forced to comply with new federal law without recourse, but laws designed to discourage discrimination are not the same as laws that enable it,” Reitz says, continuing, “We live in a diverse world which includes diverse forms of religious theology, interpretation and personal expression. Therefore we must aspire to an inclusive ideal. But within that thought and deed, individual liberties must also end where another’s begin. That tender balance already exists.”
UPDATE 3:15 p.m. ET: CBS, NBCUniversal, Discovery and MGM have joined the list of Hollywood players who oppose the bill. Their statements per Deadline:
“CBS Corporation is committed to an environment that values diversity and inclusion throughout the company and in all our business practices,” said the company in a statement Thursday. “The discriminatory language in Georgia’s proposed religious liberty bill conflicts with these core ethics and values. We call on Governor Deal to exercise his veto power.”
“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.”
“Discovery Communications has a 30-year commitment to the values of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all cultures and lifestyles. As a purpose-driven company, we strive to promote a value system that respects differences, empowers communities, and inspires us all to create a more vibrant world. We strongly oppose any laws tolerating discrimination of any kind. We urge Gov. Deal to veto the proposed Georgia law that would limit the freedoms and protections of LGBT residents of Georgia.”
“MGM is unequivocally committed to inclusion, diversity and tolerance in all circumstances. We stand beside our many studio partners in publicly encouraging Governor Deal to veto the discriminatory House Bill 757. Our sincere hope is the state repudiates this hateful and bigoted legislation.”