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Hollywood opposition grows to Georgia bill seen as antigay

More Hollywood studios and media companies are speaking out to put pressure on Georgia's governor to veto legislation that backers say protects religious liberty but that is condemned by opponents as antigay.

Time Warner on Thursday became the latest media company to join Disney, Viacom and AMC in protest of Georgia's Free Exercise Protection Act, which critics say boosts legal safeguards for opponents of same-sex marriage.

"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," Time Warner said in a statement released Thursday morning.

In urging Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the bill, the media giant noted its business interests in Georgia, particularly Turner, which is an active participant in the Georgia Prospers campaign, a coalition of business leaders. Time Warner's CNN is also based in Atlanta.

The controversial legislation, passed by Georgia lawmakers March 16, would offer protections to faith-based entities that refuse to provide services that they say violate their beliefs. If it becomes law, the proposed legislation would have the effect of stepping up legal safeguards for opponents of same-sex marriage.

Deal has until May 3 to make his decision.

Time Warner wasn't the only media company to come forward on Thursday in opposition to the bill. Weinstein Co., 21st Century Fox, Lionsgate and Starz also voiced their opposition.

Weinstein Co. said it "will not stand behind sanctioning the discrimination of‎ LGBT people or any American." Lionsgate called the bill "deplorable" and "regressive."

21st Century Fox said it was joining the coalition calling for a veto on behalf of its "many creative partners and colleagues who choose to film their projects in the beautiful state of Georgia."

And pay cable network Starz, whose original series "Survivor's Remorse" is filming its third season in Georgia, called on Deal to "reject this divisive legislation."

Though much of Hollywood is now speaking out in opposition to the bill, few have threatened an outright boycott of filming in the state.

Disney, the world's largest entertainment company, said it would no longer film in Georgia if the bill was signed into law. Weinstein Co. has, so far, said only that it would move production of Lee Daniels' new film, which is set to film in Georgia later this year, if this "unlawful bill is enacted." 

As Thursday progressed, more Hollywood studios and media companies issued statements in opposition to the bill, including Sony, NBCUniversal, Comcast, CBS and Open Road Films.

STX Entertainment has joined those that will boycott production in Georgia if the bill is passed. The decision would only affect future projects as the studio does not currently have any productions filming in Georgia.

And streaming giant Netflix said it would move production on two series that were set to film there in the coming months should "any legislation allowing discriminatory practice be signed into state law." Netflix had recently wrapped production on two films, "The Do-Over" and "True Memoirs of an International Assassin," as well as the Winona Ryder TV drama "Stranger Things," in Georgia.

 I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

Update

4:15 p.m.: The post has been updated to add STX Entertainment and Netflix to the list of Hollywood companies in opposition to the bill.The post was originally published at 11:40 a.m.

12:10 p.m.: The post has been updated to include additional Hollywood companies that have voiced opposition to the bill.

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