Hollywood has been slow in reacting against Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act, legislation known as the “heartbeat bill” that prohibits most abortions in the state once doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat.
Signed into law this week, the bill – now one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws – was earlier heavily criticized by many In Hollywood, whose interest In the state stems from the extensive film and TV industry presence thanks to Georgia’s production tax credits. Avengers: Endgame and the long-running TV series The Walking Dead are among the productions that have shot in the state.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who beat Stacey Abrams in Georgia’s gubernatorial race last fall, made the bill’s passage one of his campaign promises. Like in other states that have attempted similar legislation, court challenges are expected. Barring any blocks, the law would take effect in January 2020.
Previously, Hollywood actors weighed in on the bill as it wound its way through the Georgia Legislature, including Alyssa Milano, who called for a boycott.
“To Georgia’s leaders,” she wrote in a Deadline guest column. “You have worked hard to showcase your state and bring in filming projects that have had a multiplier impact on your state’s economy, but these projects are not a given. I urge you to think hard before making Georgia a state that is not welcoming of women.”
About 50 actors including Amy Schumer, Amber Tamblyn, Alec Baldwin, Don Cheadle, Rosie O’Donnell, Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Essence Atkins, Uzo Aduba, Gabrielle Union, Christina Applegate, Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, David Cross, Mia Farrow, Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford signed a letter written by Milano in opposition to the bill. They vowed to “do everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women if H.B. 481 becomes law.”
Said the WGA East and West in a joint statement at the time: “This law would make Georgia an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry to work, including our members. If the Georgia Legislature and Governor Kemp make HB 481 law, it is entirely possible that many of those in our industry will either want to leave the state or decide not to bring productions there. Such is the potential cost of a blatant attack on every woman’s right to control her own body.”
The rest of Hollywood is largely playing its reactions cautiously, with a few exceptions.
Christine Vachon’s Killer Films, which produced the movies Vox Lux, First Reformed and Carol, said Thursday on Twitter it will “no longer consider Georgia as a viable shooting location until this ridiculous law is overturned.”
David Simon, the man behind Blown Deadline productions and the creator of The Wire and The Deuce, also said Georgia was no longer an option. “Our comparative assessments of locations for upcoming development will pull Georgia off the list until we can be assured the health options and civil liberties of our female colleagues are unimpaired.”
Duplass Brothers Productions (the Mark Duplass-helmed company with a four-film deal with Netflix), Color Force (“Crazy Rich Asians” and “The Hunger Games”) and CounterNarrative Films (Netflix’s “Triple Frontier”) all said they would also stop work in Georgia as long as the law stood. More than 100 actors, including major stars, have pledged to boycott productions in the state as well.
However, the Motion Picture Association is “monitoring” the situation, but has no immediate plans. Spokesman Chris Ortman said, “Film and television production in Georgia supports more than 92,000 jobs and brings significant economic benefits to communities and families. It is important to remember that similar legislation has been attempted in other states, and has either been enjoined by the courts or currently being challenged. The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor developments.”