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Hollywood Condemns Georgia’s Religious Liberty Bill

UPDATED: MGM, Sony, Lionsgate, 21st Century Fox, the Weinstein Company, CBS, Discovery, Comcast NBCUniversal and Time Warner are the latest media companies to oppose a pending religious liberty bill in Georgia. 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.” Sony said “Bill HB 757 is anathema to our studio and to all those who value diversity and inclusion.”

MGM says it’s “unequivocally committed to inclusion, diversity and tolerance in all circumstances.”

The Weinstein Company also threatened to move its Lee Daniels-directed biopic of Richard Pryor, which is set to begin filming before the end of the year‎. The film stars Oprah, 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,” TWC said. “We hope Governor Deal will veto bill HB 757 and not allow sanctioned bigotry to become law in Georgia.”

Gov. Nathan Deal has not said whether he would sign the legislation, which state lawmakers passed last week.

21st Century Fox also released a statement.

“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,” it reads.

Lionsgate sent out a statement as well.

“Lionsgate has deep roots in the State of Georgia in our film, television and location-based entertainment businesses,” Lionsgate said. “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.”

CBS also followed up with a statement on Thursday.

“CBS Corporation is committed to an environment that values diversity and inclusion throughout the company and in all our business practices,” reads that statement. “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.”

Discovery also annouced its “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,” it said. “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.”

Hollywood heavyweights, including Daniels, Aaron Sorkin, Rob Reiner, Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore and Kathleen Kennedy, are also vowing not work in Georgia if Deal signs the bill.

“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,” they said in a letter, released by the Human Rights Campaign, on Thursday.

The Walt Disney Co. and Marvel Entertainment indicated that they would not shoot productions in the state if the governor signed the bill, while Viacom and AMC issued statements in opposition.

The law protects religious officials from having to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, and would allow faith-based organizations to deny services or employment to those who violate their “sincerely held religious belief.”

On Thursday night, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill that overturns local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances, including a recent ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte. The state scaled back its incentive program in 2014, but there’s still production in the state, including ABC’s update of “Dirty Dancing,” which is shooting in the Asheville area.

“At Comcast NBCUniversal we are proud of our record of inclusion and stand against discrimination of all forms,” Comcast NBCUniversal said. “We join the voices that urge Governor Deal to protect Georgia from any discriminatory laws.”

Time Warner’s statement is below:

“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.”

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