In this image provided by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Patrick Swayze, portraying Johnny Castle, and Jennifer Grey, portraying Baby Houseman, are shown in a scene from the film, "Dirty Dancing." Lionsgate, which is set to film a remake of the movie in North Carolina, is canceling a comedy production in the state over a new LGBT law. Lionsgate/AP
In this image provided by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Patrick Swayze, portraying Johnny Castle, and Jennifer Grey, portraying Baby Houseman, are shown in a scene from the film, "Dirty Dancing." Lionsgate, which is set to film a remake of the movie in North Carolina, is canceling a comedy production in the state over a new LGBT law. Lionsgate/AP

Business

TV, film production companies to leave NC over LGBT law

April 01, 2016 06:50 PM

UPDATED April 02, 2016 12:56 PM

Lionsgate and the A+E network say they won’t film TV shows and movies in North Carolina if the state doesn’t repeal its new LGBT law.

Along with Fox, Miramax and The Weinstein Company, the entertainment producers have voiced opposition to House Bill 2, which replaces local ordinances with a statewide nondiscrimination law that doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.

A production coordinator for Lionsgate told the Associated Press that the company is canceling plans to shoot a comedy show in Charlotte and will instead film in Canada. The production would have involved hiring about 100 workers in North Carolina.

Lionsgate is scheduled to film a remake of the movie “Dirty Dancing” in the Asheville area in the coming months, and it has received a $4 million grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce, which is part of Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration. McCrory signed the bill and has actively defended it.

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Lionsgate did not respond to inquiries about Dirty Dancing on Friday.

A+E Studios is currently filming an eight-episode military drama called “SIX” in the Wilmington area, with help from a $7.2 million grant from the Department of Commerce. But the company says it won’t be coming back after the production wraps up.

“Production on SIX is already underway, however we will not consider North Carolina for any new productions,” spokesman Dan Silberman said in an email.

Turner Broadcasting, which is currently filming the TNT show “Good Behavior” in Wilmington, said it will finish the show but will “reevaluate” future projects. 21st Century Fox also said the LGBT law also jeopardizes its future work in the state.

“On behalf of our creative partners and colleagues who made commitments to shoot in North Carolina prior to this bill being signed, we join the growing coalition of businesses that hope to see this act repealed,” the statement from Fox said. “In addition, we will reconsider future filming commitments in North Carolina if the act is not repealed.”

Film and TV production has already dropped off in the state because lawmakers replaced a tax incentive program with a grant program that’s currently funded at $30 million per year.

“It’s a changing landscape and can change daily and hourly,” said Johnny Griffin of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, who said he’s heard from filmmakers that “expressed some concerns” about the LGBT law.

North Carolina is also losing some conference business from the law. ACPA-College Student Educators International announced Friday that it has canceled a June conference in Charlotte. The Holiday Inn that was hosting the event agreed to move it to one of its hotels in another state.

“The current social and political climate in North Carolina cannot provide a hospitable environment for our members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” executive director Cynthia Love said.

In other House Bill 2 developments Friday:

Sheriffs note safety concern: The N.C. Sheriffs’ Association announced that it has encouraged the legislature to overturn local ordinances that “allow persons of one gender to use the restroom of the other gender.” Sheriffs had expressed “concerns for public safety,” executive vice president Eddie Caldwell said, but the group hasn’t taken a position on other provisions in the LGBT law.

Google Ventures to boycott: Bill Maris of Google Ventures said he won’t invest in any start-up companies in North Carolina until the law is repealed.

“Please flag any investments in NC that come through as I am not comfortable deploying dollars into start-ups there until the voters there fix this,” Maris wrote to his partners, according to the tech news website re/code.

More companies weigh in: The CEO of PepsiCo – the company whose signature soft drink was invented in North Carolina – sent a letter Friday to Gov. Pat McCrory calling for the repeal of the state’s new LGBT law.

“I was taken aback by the legislature’s recent action in passing HB2, as well as your decision to sign it into law so quickly,” CEO Indra Nooyi wrote, adding that the law “impedes our progress toward equality.”

PepsiCo is now headquartered in New York but still holds its annual shareholders meeting in New Bern and employs thousands in the state. Nooyi didn’t suggest that the company might make any changes in response to the law.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign said an additional 20 companies had joined 100 others in signing a letter to McCrory calling for repeal. The LGBT advocacy group delivered the letter to the governor’s office on Thursday.

The new additions to the list of opponents include Hyatt, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Northrop Grumman, Ralph Lauren, American Apparel, Qualcomm, Twilio, Udacity, Pandora Media and EMC Corporation.

The Keep N.C. Safe Coalition, which supports the law, has also added more businesses to its list of supporters. They include Archangel Michael Orthodox Christian Bookstore, To Your Health Bakery and Snyder Packaging.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter