5th UPDATE, 6:25 PM: Now Amblin Partners has joined the anti-Georgia chorus over the state’s pending religious liberty legislation. “Amblin Partners is committed to diversity and inclusion for all,” the company led by Steven Spielberg. “We would be disappointed to see our pipeline of production end at the Georgia border because of this legislation. While we are aware that Governor Deal has not yet made a decision, we stand with our industry colleagues in strongly urging him to veto this bill.”
4th UPDATE, 5:10 PM: From Disney to CBS, AMC and more, the studios, networks and cablers have expressed their widespread disapproval the past two days of Georgia’s discriminatory religious liberty bill that is sitting on the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal. Now Netflix has asserted its position, and the streaming service is prepared to cross state lines if Deal signs the bill into law.
“Netflix is an inclusive company,” a Netflix spokesperson said Thursday afternoon. “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.”
The films recently made in the tax credit rich Peach State by the Reed Hastings run company were The Do-Over with Adam Sandler as part of his multi-pic deal and the Jeff Wadlow directed True Memoirs of an International Assassin. The series was the Winona Ryder starring Stranger Things from the Duffer Brothers, which is set to debut in July.
With estimates that film and TV productions in the state brought in more than $1.7 billion in direct spending in fiscal 2015, an exodus as is now being promised directly or indirectly by almost all the major industry players would be a serious blow to Georgia. A blow made all the harder by the fact that the state has committed itself to such generous tax incentives and facility investments over the past decade to become one of the top 5 major locations in North America – an achievement that seemingly now will vanish if Gov. Deal signs House Bill 757 by the May 3 deadline. That’s not peachy.
3RD UPDATE, 3:38 PM: In what is virtually now a unanimous and united stance against Georgia’s move to allow discrimination against the LGBT community, CBS, NBCUniversal, Discovery and Open Road Films have joined the effort to get Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the religious liberty bill passed by the legislature there last week.
“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.”
While CBS the network does not presently have any shows that are in production in Georgia, it does have a 50% stake in The CW, which does have series there. Both The Vampire Diaries and Originals film in the tax credit lucrative state. Warner Bros Entertainment owns the other 50% of The CW. Along with many others, Time Warner also came out against the bill AKA House Bill 757 earlier today.
NBCU, MGM and Discovery echoed the sentiment from CBS in their statements today too.
“At Comcast NBCUniversal we are proud of our record of inclusion and stand against discrimination of all forms, the media giant asserted. “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,” said the cabler. “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,” a spokesperson from the studio said today. “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.” STX also pushed Deal to kill the bill. “STX Entertainment is an ardent supporter of diversity, participation and access and opposes discrimination of any kind,” said the Robert Simonds founded studio. “We join others in the creative and business communities to strongly urge Governor Deal to veto this bill.”
Open Road, which distributed this year’s Oscar Best Picture winner Spotlight, also came out against the bill.
“Open Road Films is proud to support diversity and inclusion in all of our business practices,” a spokesman said. “We will not remain silent in the face of a discriminatory law such as Georgia House Bill 757. Along with our colleagues in the motion picture industry, we urge Governor Deal to veto this reprehensible proposed law.”
UPDATE, 10:24 AM: The chorus of Hollywood disapproval of a Georgia bill that would allow discrimination against the LGBT community continues to grow louder — fast. Mere hours after first Time Warner, then the Weinstein Company and the likes of Empire co-creator Lee Daniels and Aaron Sorkin and Starz all condemned the Religious Liberty bill, 21st Century Fox, Lionsgate and Sony also are urging a veto.
“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,” a spokesperson for the company said Thursday.
“Lionsgate has deep roots in the State of Georgia in our film, television and location-based entertainment businesses,” said The Hunger Games franchise studio. “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.” All of the Jennifer Lawrence starring blockbusters sequels based on Suzanne Collins’ novels were shot at least partially in and around Atlanta. The first Hunger Games movie was filmed in North Carolina, which enacted measures yesterday to stop local government from passing by-laws and the like to stop discrimination against the LGBT community. Now signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the legislation will take effect on April 1.
“Georgia Bill HB 757 is anathema to our studio and to all those who value diversity and inclusion, said Sony Picture’s Chief Communications Officer Robert Lawson on Thursday too. “We strongly urge Governor Deal to exercise his veto.”
Gov. Nathan Deal has until May 3 to decide if he will ink or veto the legislation that intends in part “to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion. It also allows faith-based organizations to not hire or provide services to those who “violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.”
PREVIOUS, 9:16 AM: One day after Disney said that it would take its business elsewhere if Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signs into law a bill that would permit faith-based groups and organizations in the state to discriminate based on sexuality, Time Warner and a group of Hollywood industry leaders were among the new batch of voices who are urging him to stop the Free Exercise Protection Act in its tracks.
The Hollywood group that included the likes of Greg Berlanti, Matt Bomer, Dustin Lance Black, Kathy Kennedy, Bryan Lourd, Seth MacFarlane, Ryan Murphy, Rob Reiner and Aaron Sorkin signed their names to a letter (read it in full below) sent to Deal by the Human Rights Campaign. Also on the list of names are Harvey Weinstein and Lee Daniels, who through The Weinstein Company this morning said they will move production of its Richard Pryor biopic shooting in the state later this year.
“At Time Warner, diversity in all its forms is core to our value system and to the success of our business,” the HBO, Warner Bros, CNN and Turner parent company said in a statement Thursday. “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,” Time Warner added. “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.”
Time Warner joins AMC and Viacom, who came out yesterday in wanting to see House Bill 757 on the legislative dust heap. The media companies are in line with the NFL, who may pull Atlanta out of Super Bowl-hosting contention over the issue, the MPAA, the Atlanta Hawks organization as well as Atlanta-based Coca-Cola in wanting to see the controversial bill stopped.
Also weighing in today is Starz, whose comedy series Survivor’s Remorse is based in Georgia and is shooting its third season there now. “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.”
Deal has until May 3 to decide whether or not to sign the bill, which has become known as the Religious Liberty bill by supporters.
Here is the Human Rights Campaign letter:
Dear Governor Deal,
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 protections on the books. Unfortunately, Georgia not only lacks such protections, 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
Dana Fox, Writer and Producer
John Goldwyn, Producer
James Gunn, Writer and Director
Anne Hathaway, Actress
Alan Hergott, Entertainment Attorney
Nina Jacobson, Producer
Dan Jinks, Producer
Kathy Kennedy, Producer
Zoe Kravitz, Actress
Bryan Lourd, Talent Agent
Seth MacFarlane, Producer and Filmmaker
Laurence Mark, Producer
Frank Marshall, Producer and Director
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, Screenwriter and Producer
Marisa Tomei, Actress
Gus Van Sant, Producer and Director
Harvey Weinstein, Producer and Film Studio Executive
Craig Zadan, Producer and Director