NC LGBT law prompts Lionsgate to pull production of new Hulu show from Charlotte

Family protest against HB2 in front of Governor's Mansion

Protesters sing "Let Us Pee" during a protest against HB2 at the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, NC Saturday, April 2, 2016.
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Protesters sing "Let Us Pee" during a protest against HB2 at the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, NC Saturday, April 2, 2016.

Lionsgate is pulling production for a new Hulu show that was supposed to be filmed in Charlotte, the latest fallout from North Carolina’s new law limiting LGBT protections.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based studio had intended to shoot the pilot for “Crushed” in the Charlotte area. The comedy starring Regina Hall is about an African-American family and their Napa wine business.

Film industry backlash is the latest business reaction to the controversial new law, signed March 23 by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Jennifer Irvine, who was hired as the local production office coordinator for the show, said the studio informed employees March 24 that it was pulling the plug on the show. Several contractors also confirmed they were told the show had been pulled in Charlotte.

Lionsgate representatives did not return multiple requests for comment. A representative from the state’s film commission declined to comment on the project.

Pre-production work on “Crushed” was to start in early April, and filming was set to begin in May, Irvine said. It’s now going to be filmed in Vancouver, Canada. It’s unclear how many local workers the project affected.

Irvine, who previously worked on the Showtime show “Homeland,” said the film industry in Charlotte was already suffering after the elimination of a state tax credit program in 2014.

“When we lost our tax incentives a year ago, I lost my work at that point,” she said. “We were just starting to trickle back. And now when (McCrory) signed that bill, he tainted the film industry all over again.”

The new North Carolina LGBT bill was a response to a provision in Charlotte’s expanded nondiscrimination ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender with which they identify. Other major corporations like American Airlines and Apple, as well as sports organizations like the NBA, have similarly voiced their disapproval.

Lionsgate will finish filming the musical “Dirty Dancing” in North Carolina, given how far along the project is. The studio said House Bill 2 is “deplorable and discriminatory, and it runs counter to everything we stand for,” according to a letter obtained by the Observer that was issued by Lionsgate on behalf of “Dirty Dancing.”

“We will be hard pressed to continue our relationship with North Carolina if this regressive law remains on the books,” the letter states.

Similarly, the Motion Picture Association of America said it and its members oppose “any law that legitimizes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” said Vans Stevenson, the association’s senior vice president for state government affairs.

Rob Reiner, who directed films like “When Harry Met Sally” and “The Princess Bride,” has said he won’t film in North Carolina until the new LGBT bill is repealed.

“I encourage my colleagues in the entertainment industry to vow to do the same. Enough is enough,” Reiner said of the bill, which he called “hateful,” in a statement provided by the Human Rights Campaign.

Georgia faced similar backlash from the film industry – Disney threatened to pull its business from the state – as Gov. Nathan Deal considered a controversial religious liberty bill, which opponents called anti-gay. Deal vetoed the bill March 28.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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