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Hollywood protests Georgia abortion law, threatens to pull productions

Anti-abortion protestors rally outside of the Georgia State Capitol following the signing of HB 481,
Anti-abortion protesters rally outside the Georgia Capitol following the signing of HB 481 in Atlanta on Tuesday.
(Alyssa Pointer / Associated Press)

Hollywood players who have long enjoyed tax incentives for operating in Georgia could be angling to pull their productions out of the Peach State following this week’s signing of an early-abortion law there.

On Tuesday, Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. (That can be as early as six weeks, before many women know they’re pregnant.)

Since then, celebrities and creatives have decried the decision and are beginning to put their money where their mouth is, potentially threatening the well-being of the Hollywood of the South, which is home to high-profile productions such as “The Walking Dead,” “Ozark” and “Stranger Things.”

“The Wire” and “The Deuce” creator David Simon said that his Blown Deadline productions “must undertake production where the rights of all citizens remain intact,” engaging in a lengthy Twitter discussion with critics on Wednesday.

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Killer Films CEO Christine Vachon also planned to halt production in the state, tweeting Thursday, “Killer Films will no longer consider Georgia as a viable shooting location until this ridiculous law is overturned.”

Meanwhile, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, which represents several major film studios, said it plans to “monitor developments.”

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“Film and television production in Georgia supports more than 92,000 jobs and brings significant economic benefits to communities and families,” the organization said in a statement to The Times. “It is important to remember that similar legislation has been attempted in other states, and has either been enjoined by the courts or is currently being challenged.”

TV writer Dan Gregor urged his colleagues this week not to film in the state, retweeting a March statement from the Writers Guild of America East & West opposing HB 481, which will take effect in 2020.

“This law would make Georgia an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry to work, including our members,” the statement read. “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 “heartbeat” law has already been decried by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, Hillary Clinton, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and U.S. presidential hopefuls Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Pete Buttigieg.

Talk show host Busy Philipps also condemned the decision on her E! talk show, “Busy Tonight,” opening up about her own abortion at age 15 and how enacting such a law had her fearing for women and girls.

“Westworld” star Evan Rachel Wood applauded the host after tweeting her own dismay about the state’s regard for abortions.

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“Um..guys? Women who are residents in Georgia can go to jail if they travel out of state for an abortion now?” she wrote, adding, “In Georgia a woman who miscarries could go to jail. Are we paying attention????”

Dresden Dolls singer Amanda Palmer also criticized the decision and said she’d use her upcoming performance at the Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta to share her abortion story with the audience.

Actress and advocate Amber Tamblyn took aim at Kemp for approving the bill, accusing the governor of stealing his position in the contested midterm election.

“You are a fraction of a man and a fraud of an official. We will come for you next election. That’s a promise. HB 481: Georgia law criminalizes abortion, subjects women to life in prison,” she tweeted.

In 2016, Disney, Viacom and AMC, Time Warner, Lionsgate, 21st Century Fox and others protested Georgia’s Free Exercise Protection Act, which critics said is an anti-gay measure that boosts legal safeguards for opponents of same-sex marriage.

Follow me: @NardineSaad


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