Production companies react to new Georgia abortion law

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Add Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and the producers of the indie horror film Along Came the Devil 2, to the growing list of production companies that are taking action to oppose the new anti-abortion “heartbeat bill” signed into law this week in Georgia.

This previous Tuesday, Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law what has been dubbed the “heartbeat bill,” which bans abortions in Georgia if a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

The legislation does include exceptions to save the life of the mother or for rape or incest if the mother files a police report. It would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 unless it is blocked in the courts. Legal challenges are expected.

Both Abrams and Peele have said they would donate “100% of our respective episodic fees” for the season they are currently filming of HBO’s Lovecraft Country in Georgia. The two issued a joint statement:

“In a few weeks we start shooting our new show, Lovecraft Country and will do so standing shoulder to shoulder with the women of Georgia. Governor Kemp’s ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Abortion Law is an unconstitutional effort to further restrict women and their health providers from making private medical decisions on their terms. Make no mistake, this is an attack aimed squarely and purposely at women. We stand with Stacey Abrams and the hardworking people of Georgia, and will donate 100% of our respective episodic fees for this season to two organizations leading the charge against this draconian law: the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia. We encourage those who are able to funnel any and all resources to these organizations.”

Now, The Wrap reports that Jason DeVan, the writer, director and producer of Along Came the Devil 2, and producer Heather DeVan have promised to donate a portion of the film’s proceeds to ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia.

“We stand behind the women of Georgia and their fundamental right to choose,” they said to the publication. “As we come to a close to our production of ‘Along Came the Devil 2,’ we want to show our support by donating a portion of the proceeds from the film to ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia. Georgia is our home state. We have built a loving family here with our three kids along with our extended family – our hardworking and dedicated production crew. Together — we unite to fight this injustice.”

Other producers and companies publicly condemning the new law include The Wire’s David Simon and his Blown Deadline Productions, Killer Films CEO Christine Vachon (Carol, Vox Lux), Mark Duplass and his Duplass Brothers Productions.

Duplass who has a four-picture film deal with Netflix, alluded to the abortion bill on Twitter on Thursday. “Don’t give your business to Georgia,” he wrote. “Will you pledge with me not to film anything in Georgia until they reverse this backwards legislation?”

If other production companies, which now stand at five, decide to oppose the new law, it could have a severe economic effect on the film economy. Georgia’s generous tax incentives give up to 30 percent back, explaining why 455 productions filmed there last year.

According to Georgia Trend, Georgia overtook California as the top location for production of feature films in 2016, leading to an economic impact of $9.5 billion in fiscal 2017 and $2.7 billion in direct spending.

Hit series like Ozark, The Real World and The Walking Dead also film in the state, according to ExploreGeorgia.org, the state’s official tourism website.

The sequel to Jumanji just wrapped production there, as did Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories and Will Smith’s Bad Boys for Life. Marvel has also called Georgia its home base for some time.

The Motion Picture Association of America also said in a statement, “Film and television production in Georgia supports more than 92,000 jobs and brings significant economic benefits to communities and families… The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor developments.”

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who is currently filming her second season of Netflix’s Insatiable, has been outspoken about the new law and has vowed to lead the fight. “I will do everything in my power to get as many productions as possible — including Insatiable — to move out of this state which continues to put forth oppressive, hurtful policy that contradicts everything the entertainment industry stands for,” Milano said.

She added, “Should people wait to boycott? No. Should we keep funding states that put forth hurtful policy? No. If you are offered a project that shoots in Georgia or are a producer considering working in Georgia or any state with a heartbeat bill, you should not take that job and you should be vocal about why you’re not taking that job.”

Milano has been vocal about the issue since March, when the bill was approved in the Georgia General Assembly. She called for a boycott of the state, delivering a letter signed by other prominent Hollywood actors including Amy Schumer, Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Uzo Aduba and Colin Hanks, to Kemp’s office.

Friday, the actress also called on women to abstain from sex amid a flurry of bills aimed at curtailing abortion.

“Our reproductive rights are being erased,” the actress tweeted Friday. “Until women have legal control over our bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy. JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back. I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on.”

A similar six-week abortion law that North Dakota passed in 2016 was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court according to The Hollywood Reporter. The difference this time is that the balance of the Supreme Court has changed with the recent appointment of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

It’s worth noting this isn’t the first time there have been calls for Hollywood’s filmmakers to pull projects from the state as a result of controversial legislation. A year ago, a similar movement grew in response to an anti-LGBTQ bill that would have made it legal for adoption agencies to not work with same-sex couples.

Source: The Wrap

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