Netflix has become the first major Hollywood company to take a stand against Georgia’s recent passage of a strict abortion law, with chief content officer Ted Sarandos saying Tuesday that the streaming giant would “rethink our entire investment in Georgia” if legislation known as the “heartbeat bill” became state law.
The bill, among the several that have passed state legislatures in recent weeks, would outlaw most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — usually as early as six weeks, which sometimes is before a woman knows she’s pregnant. It is set to become law next year.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos said in a statement. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there — while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
The Georgia Film office says current projects filming in the state include five shows for Netflix: The Liberator, Christmas on the Square, Holidate, Season 2 of Insatiable and Season 3 of Ozark. The state is also home to productions for Season 10 of AMC’s The Walking Dead among others.
The bill’s passage earlier this month comes as Georgia has become a vital production hub for the film and TV industries. The region known “Y’allywood” is responsible for more than 92,100 jobs and nearly $4.6 billion in total wages in the state, according to the MPAA. State officials said that for the fiscal year ending June 30 film and TV production generated $2.7 billion in direct spending.
The bill is expected to face legal challenges — a similar bill in Mississippi was recently struck down in court. Alabama and Missouri also have passed laws with tougher restrictions that opponents say are designed to push a case to the U.S. Supreme Court, targeting the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that gave women the right to choose an abortion.
Ahead of the Georgia bill’s passage, Alyssa Milano — who is part of Netflix’s Insatiable cast — led the signing of a letter from 50 Hollywood figures pledging that they wouldn’t work in the state if the bill became law. Unions including the WGA and SAG-AFTRA also came out against the bill.
Since then, Hollywood companies have taken different approaches to Georgia. Amazon said its upcoming series The Power scrapped plans to shoot there, and Lionsgate’s Kristen Wiig-Annie Mumolo film Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar also said it was canceling its Georgia shoot.
J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele’s upcoming HBO horror series Lovecraft Country will film in Georgia as planned, but the producers have said they will donate profits to groups that are fighting the law. Chernin Entertainment also said it will continue to film its Fear Street movies and the upcoming Starz drama P-Valley in Atlanta but will make a “a significant donation” to the American Civil Liberties Union’s battle against the legislation.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who made the passage of the legislation a key component of his campaign last year when he beat Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams, doesn’t seem bothered by the Hollywood criticism.
“I understand that some folks don’t like this new law. I’m fine with that,” he told the state’s Republican convention during a speech last week. “We’re elected to do what’s right – and standing up for precious life is always the right thing to do.”
He added: “We are the party of freedom and opportunity. We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.”
Variety reported Sarandos’ statement first today.
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