In this season of heightened political opinions and arguments, quite a few A-List celebrities are coming out against what is being called the “Anti-Gay” bill being proposed in Georgia. No, not Georgia, the region in the former Soviet Union, but the state of Georgia in the United States. Of America.
Many shows and movies are shot in the state, as the warm and financially-friendly environment can double as a lot of other places, but studios, producers, writers, and actors are coming out to say that if the bill passes, they too will be passing on Georgia, and boycotting any production that involves the state.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that what is called the “Anti-Gay” bill, is actually called the Free Exercise Protection Act, and it is on the desk of Governor Nathan Deal, waiting to be signed. Deal has until May 3rd to decide to sign the bill or not, and it was passed by Georgia lawmakers last week. The bill offers protection to faith-based entities that refuse to provide services that they say violate their beliefs. If it passes, it would provide a legal defense for those against same-sex marriage, for example.
One of the big dogs coming out to say that they would no longer do business with the state if the anti-gay bill passes is Disney, along with Marvel. Disney says that they have had great experiences filming in Georgia, but it is an inclusive company that will no longer be able to do business in the state if this is the direction that Georgia chooses to go. Disney is the largest entertainment company in the world, and it makes no apologies for throwing its weight around.
In terms of attracting production, Georgia has one of the strongest incentive programs in the country, but to Disney that would not matter. And it’s not just the entertainment industry that is giving Governor Deal and Georgia an ultimatum. The NFL has told him that Atlanta would be out of the running to host the Super Bowl later in this decade if the anti-gay bill passes.
According to Vanity Fair, at the time of publication, 38 A-Listers have joined the cause to say they will no longer work in Georgia if the anti-gay bill passes. A letter was written and then signed by 38 hard-hitters that are steadfast in their decision not to work in Georgia if the bill is signed by Governor Deal. [The full letter can be read here]
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.
The letter continues by saying that they urge the governor to veto the bill in order to send a message to the world, and especially to all the residents of the state of Georgia.
There are 38 signers of the letter, but some of the big names are Julianne Moore, Anne Hathaway, Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and HBO, Matt Bomer, Kristen Chenoweth, Ryan Murphy, Aaron Sorkin, and Rob Reiner. As this topic gains more steam, other big names will likely join the cause. And there are many others behind the scenes also urging Governor Deal to veto this bill.
The Verge is saying that AMC has now joined Disney and Marvel, saying that they won’t be working in Georgia if this anti-gay bill passed. The people of Georgia and the governor of Georgia have a tough decision to make. And channels and networks including MPAA, CBS, NBCUniversal, MGM, The Weinstein Company, Time Warner, 21st Century Fox, Viacom, Starz, and Discovery also want to send a message to Georgia that they will take their business elsewhere. Time-Warner put out its own statement that said that company is against everything that this Georgia bill says.
“GEORGIA BILL HB 757 IS IN CONTRADICTION TO THE VALUES WE HOLD DEAR”
Disney currently has films in production in Georgia, and there is no word on whether or not they would close up production of the bill is signed by May 3.
Do you think the big name actors and studios will make the state of Georgia rethink implementing this bill?
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]