CAA's Bryan Lourd Summons A-Listers to Home for "Private Briefing" on Anti-LGBT Legislation

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Bryan Lourd

The gathering is meant to educate some of the most influential figures from the world of entertainment and formulate strategies for pushing back on the socially conservative laws.

As a wave of anti-LGBT legislation sweeps through the South, one of Hollywood's most powerful dealmakers has summoned the town's biggest names to his home for a strategy session on how best to fight back.

Bryan Lourd, a partner and managing director at the A-list talent brokerage Creative Artists Agency, is co-hosting a cocktail reception at his Beverly Hills mansion on Wednesday. His co-host is his partner, Bruce Bozzi, a restaurateur and great-grandson of the man who founded the original Palm steakhouse in 1926.

Touted as an "intimate discussion" with Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the evening will lay out the latest developments in North Carolina and Mississippi, where several laws have been passed restricting transgender citizens from entering public bathrooms and protecting businesses' rights to refuse to serve LGBT customers.

A bill now sits on the desk of the governor of Tennessee that would allow therapists and counselors to reject LGBT patients.

The evening is not a fundraiser but rather a private briefing meant to educate some of the most influential figures from the world of sports and entertainment and formulate strategies for pushing back on the socially conservative laws.

In an email accompanying the invite, Lindsay Rachelefsky, a Hollywood political consultant with Sky Advisory, writes, "The challenges we are all facing to bring equality to every person and state in our country is more timely than ever. We all need to know what is happening right now across the nation and what we can do as a far-reaching group to help."

She continues, "The needle is moving and now is the time for us to get together as a community and use our influence to help push those states that are openly discriminating against LGBT people."

There's reason to believe Hollywood does have the power to prevent or even reverse these laws. When a similar bill was introduced in the Georgia legislature, Griffin denounced it as "wrong," "un-American" and "an affront on all the values Hollywood prides itself on."

Heeding Griffin's call, 38 prominent Hollywood figures, including Ryan Murphy, Seth MacFarlane and Aaron Sorkin, signed a letter pledging to "take our business elsewhere" should Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal sign the bill into law. The following day, Disney and Marvel announced it would move all productions out of state should the law pass.

On March 28, Gov. Deal announced that he would veto the bill, saying, “In light of our history, I find it somewhat ironic that some in the religious community today feel that it is necessary for government to confer upon them certain rights and protections.”  

But other states were not swayed. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed the state's HB2 law, which enforces a statewide ban on individuals using bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex.

That was followed by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryan signing a far more sweeping "religious liberty" bill on April 1. The law allows business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers, among other protections for actions condemned as discriminatory by gay rights groups.

And on April 11, the Tennessee legislature passed HB 1840, which allows private-practice therapists and counselors to reject patients if their "goals, outcomes or behaviors" violate the "sincerely held principles" of the provider. That bill is currently in the hands of Gov. Bill Haslam.