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State film office won’t address movie industry reaction to anti-gay law

By TED CARTER

The state agency that recruits movie and television production to Mississippi said Thursday no films or shows in production have pulled out of the state in protest of a new religion-focused law that opponents say legalizes discrimination.

But beyond that, neither the Film Office nor the Mississippi Development Authority that oversees the office has anything to say.

“We will not be providing any additional comments,” said Jeff Rent, spokesman for the MDA, an agency that answers to Gov. Phil Bryant, who signed the intensely controversial legislation Tuesday.

Rent indicated the statement won’t be updated with any new information in coming days on contacts from production companies.

It could be no productions are scheduled for the state. Yahoo Movie’s Wrap column reported March 30 that the Film Office informed it that no productions are on its calendar.

» READ MORE: Major studios, Motion Picture Assoc. of America decry new religion law

Thursday also brought a statement from the board of the Jackson-based Crossroads Film Society, which completed its annual film festival last weekend. The board said despite state leaders’ insistence on legitimizing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, it will step up efforts to facilitate and broaden the spectrum of film and to celebrate the art of filmmaking in all its diversity.

The statement accused state leaders of seeking “to institutionalize fear of an open and diverse society.”

The Mississippi Development Authority’s one-sentence response came late Thursday after the Mississippi Business Journal sought to ask the Film Office what the law means for the future of Mississippi’s emerging TV and movie industry.

In Georgia, a religion-focused law deemed anti-gay  led film giant Disney and its Marvel subsidiary to threaten withdrawal of all productions in the state and to end any plans for future productions there. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal avoided that outcome by vetoing his state’s legislation.

HB 1523 goes into effect until July 1.

The state Film Office, which administers state incentives for movie and television productions, put the approximate direct instate production spending from 31 film and TV productions at $34 million in 2014. The production provided $4.8 million in wages to Mississippians that year, the Film Office said.

For 2015, 21 productions brought estimated direct instate production spending of $29.2 million and estimated salaries to Mississippi residents totaling $4.6 million.

The economic numbers are based on direct production spending and don’t utilize multipliers or gauge impact, the Film Office says.

However, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn and the seven co-authors say the law represents protection for circuit court clerks, churches, faith-based organizations and businesses from the consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

In a statement accompanying the signing notice Tuesday, Bryant said:

“I am signing HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions.”

The statement from the Crossroads Film Society board noted the irony of the anti-gay law coming “on the heels of our very diverse, inclusive, and kind-hearted film festival.”

The board called the action by Bryant and the Legislature “confounding,” and said the Film Society is now challenged to stay the course “to celebrate the art of filmmaking in all of its diversity and depth and embrace that diversity in all aspects of our lives.”

Meanwhile, trouble unrelated to the film industry could be ahead for Mississippi. The Rachel Maddow Show reported last Friday night that two federal agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation, are reviewing Mississippi’s HB1523 to determine whether it conflicts with federal discrimination statutes and regulations. If found to be discriminatory, the new law could the state dearly, Maddow reported. “Mississippi could lose billions of federal dollars.”

Maddow also reported the religious focused law allows Mississippi businesses to post signs stating they will refuse service to gay people and others. In debate on the new law, the state Senate rejected an amendment that would have require business as well as circuit court clerks to post clearly visible signs stating their intention to refuse service.

 

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About Ted Carter

18 comments

  1. Bryant economic plan, phase 2.

  2. Quit calling it “anti-gay”. It’s a protection for Christians. Have you ever noticed the gays never go to a Muslim bakery to try to force their views? It’s only about trying to teach everyone that 3% is more important than the rest of us to know right from wrong.

    Gay marriage is a human invention, real marriage is a gift from God. The US was based on the freedom for us to worship the Almighty, not grin and bear whatever garbage the state can foist on us. That’s the reason we left Britain, remember?

    • There is a reason you go to church and likely have a fear of God, and it is because you have more to learn.

      Humanity is comprised of children of God… It is not any different if the name of God was changed to Allah… The goal is to unite the human family, not keep it in a state of perpetual division.

      I used to proudly call myself a ‘Christian’ and I cannot do that anymore because clowns like you make that term synonymous with a hate group that is focused on disapproving of other people loving each other. Another sad thing about this is that the Bible is to be read by oneself for oneself.

      All marriage is is two hearts working as one.

      But, keep going to church Rick. They sell forgiveness, and attract the guilty.

      • Tom in Lazybrook

        I certainly believe in religious freedom rights but here is the problem, you cannot violate civil and constitutional rights of people who you deem unclean and unworthy of basic services or care under the guise of religious freedoms and secondly that law would violate the first amendment and thirdly there is a such thing as separation of church and state and fourth reason is that it is just simply a form of rebellion against The Sureme Courts decision legalizing gay marriage. As an American I know and seen how hate corrodes, divides and destroy people from the inside out and and any attempt to stop the horse from running wool lead to a kick in the head so please stop trying to create hateful laws that have no real merit and that is simply a waist of tax payers money because they will all be overturned because they are unconstitutional. ?

  3. Never fails when government gets involved with religion, not a good outcome. Have we not learned anything? Guess MS will remain the bigotted hate filled place it has always been.

  4. CMSgt (RET) - USAF

    The biggest problem is not the law, but the perception of MS. The perception of MS suffered again another blow to how people who have never been here perceive MS. I work in a company that has a very difficult time filling open, great paying jobs in the IT industry. Educated people today read the bias in the news, view social media as fact, and make life decisions based upon the words of those few that take things like this and inflate them to mean more than intended.

    Better communication prior to passing the bill into law might have helped. The after affects have really hurt my business, and my ability to hire in and for Mississippi.

  5. CMSgt (RET) - USAF

    Bummer!

  6. Tom in Lazybrook

    Rick,

    This is a wide reaching ‘discrimination enabling law’ that allows for LGBT persons to be subjected to employment, public accommodations, and HEALTH CARE refusals.

    Beyond outright denials of critical services, it makes harassment of LGBT persons protected.

    If this was a real ‘religious freedom bill’, it would protect more than three ‘religious tenets’. Have you read the bill? It protects three anti-Gay religious viewpoints and nothing else. In effect it holds those religious beliefs to be superior to other religious beliefs (especially those that oppose discrimination against LGBT persons). So it basically establishes fundamentalist ‘Christianity’ as a state protected religion, to the detriment of LGBT persons and other religious viewpoints.

    So the law will be likely struck down. But the lost business won’t come back.

    • Won’t happen in that way. It’s the gays who are suing bakeries and defaming anyone who won’t accept every last bit of what they say, just like the “clown” insulting me up above. Do the gays ever go after Muslims or make statements against those in the Middle East who kill? Of course not. It’s just a hate group against Christians, and defamation for those of us who stand up for faith.

      • Rick, you seem to have major moral issues. You are a scared little boy. I say scared because your homophobia and Islamophobia are clearly evident in your comments.

        Keep going to church, boy. Just in the future, try to learn how to love instead of congregating with others who are willing to justify their hatred… So sad too, that you would call it the word of God, when you clearly object to other equal things in creation.

        You will eventually learn. Hell awaits.

      • Rick R:

        Your ignorance needs to be countered. First, many gay groups both nationally and internationally have spoken out against the hideous atrocities that ISIS carries out, especially against gays.

        Second, the bakery incident occurred in Oregon where there is a state law that absolutely prohibits any business from discrimination against gay people. THERE IS NO SUCH LAW IN MISSISSIPPI. Such laws are common in states like NY, CA, OR, WA that have higher education levels (and incomes) than Mississippi.

        No, Mississippi’s political “leaders” are using this whole trumped up thing to stir up the ill-informed masses. Why aren’t they spending their time and energy trying to change the fact that Mississippi ranks dead last–or near so–on such indices of quality of life as per capita income, public health, education etc. etc.??

      • Am I correct in assuming that I am the “clown” that insulted you? You sure like to sling names around…

        You can go to a building and call it a church with your friends, and you can all hate on the same things together… It does not make it the will of God…

        Just being filled with that kind of fear and hatred hurts you more than whom you hate, and that reads like a long list…

        That you consider yourself a christian is laughable.

        I was not insulting you.

        I am telling you that you are wrong…

        Keep fearing God and going to church… You keep harboring that hatred, you will keep fearing God.

        Hell awaits son… You sound like you are already there.

  7. I love it when fake Christians start talking about its a law to protect Christians when it’s not. The minute you start quoting the part of scripture that affects them they immediately get offended. Then they twist the words in the bible. Why not allow business to not serve people who have been married more than once, that have had babies out of wedlock, that lie, that have hatred in their heart? Can’t do that though!

  8. Nazicrats always get upset when you take away their government bludgeon because they’re hitting people on the head with it who don’t deserve it. They’re still crying about not being able to sue gunmakers into bankruptcy with frivolous lawsuits. No biggie. More states will follow suit, and the commie filmmakers will have nowhere to film but in their commie states and pay the exorbitant taxes for the benevolent privilege. Nothing like cutting off your nose to spite your face, I say.

    • Wow, you are an old codger, aren’t you??

      Do you have any idea why States offer film production tax incentives to film within their State???

      You see, when a film is being produced, a lot of money gets spent in the State. Taxes are generated ever time money changes hands. Film production will spend money on catering, lodging, and all sorts of other needs of production. The hire locals for background. They pay people to be able to shoot at a location for a day or two.

      I am an actor in Los Angeles. In selfish ways, I could actually like this law for a potential production might shoot in Los Angeles instead.

      But I do not like this law. It stems from hatred from exclusionary christian cults. I am heterosexual, albeit I have never been all that much of a fan of monogamy. Ultimately, who am I to tell someone else what to do with their dick, when I only care about my ass!

      Watch how you use the word Nazi. I am also of Deutschland decent, and have Nazi blood. I am not against guns.

  9. At least we don’t have the Confederate flag tarnishing our national image. …
    Oh, wait.

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