As Hollywood threatens boycott, Georgia governor holds off on California visit
ATLANTA, May 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia has postponed a trip to Los Angeles in the wake of outrage from liberal Hollywood types over recently passed pro-life legislation.
According to Variety, Gov. Kemp had been scheduled to attend an event in Los Angeles, noting that the delay came after he signed a ban on abortions of babies whose heartbeat can be detected, generally within six weeks after conception. Kemp will instead tour film and television facilities in Georgia.
While the entertainment industry is important to Georgia, Sen. David Perdue (R) said this week that the Hollywood tongue-lashing will probably not hurt the state's economy. Kemp will probably visit Los Angeles in the fall to confer with film industry execs.
To @BrianKempGA & Speaker Ralston:— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) March 28, 2019
Attached, is an open letter signed by 50 actors against #HB481. On behalf of the undersigned--as people often called to work in GA or those of us contractually bound to work in GA--we hope you'll reconsider signing this bill. #HBIsBadForBusiness pic.twitter.com/DsOmAWYU2x
The passage of the heartbeat bill has roused criticism and threats of boycotts from activist directors and actors. Since Kemp signed the bill into law, Hollywood backlash has come from companies such as Killer Films (First Reformed), The Wire creator David Simon of Blown Deadline Productions (HBO's The Deuce), Color Force (Crazy Rich Asians), and the Duplass Brothers Productions (HBO's Room 104). Activist actress Alyssa Milano was joined by Mark Hamill of Star Wars and George Takei of Star Trek in saying they may boycott filming in Georgia. Calling on her followers to go on a strike, Milano has been living in Georgia on the set of her show Insatiable.
However, the 30% production tax rebate and other incentives provided by Georgia to filmmakers may be a deciding factor. Georgia trails only California and New York, respectively, in terms of the economic value of film and television production. Larger production companies such as Marvel Studios and popular shows such as The Walking Dead and Stranger Things still make their home in the Peach State. Directors J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele are still planning to film their Lovecraft County show in Georgia for HBO within a few weeks. The latter two directors claim they will give 100 percent of their "episodic fees" to the ACLU and Fair Fight Georgia, among other liberal groups. The ACLU has vowed to challenge the heartbeat law in court.
The economic impact of a film boycott may account for a muted response from Democrats in Georgia. Film and television production means about 92,000 jobs in Georgia, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Progressive Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost her bid for the governorship to Kemp, tweeted this week that while she respects those calling for a boycott, “I do not believe it is the most effective, strategic choice for change." Democrats in the legislature have also pleaded with filmmakers to continue to do business in the state because boycotts would affect not only actors and filmmakers, but also small businesses and low-income people who supply services to the film industry.
I respect the call for a boycott on Georgia, but I do not believe it is the most effective, strategic choice for change. https://t.co/9W9M9sb6Zg— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) May 15, 2019
In 2016, Netflix and Disney threatened to pull their productions from the state when the legislature was considering the Free Exercise Protection Act, which was perceived to discriminate against LGBT people. Other companies denouncing that bill were AMC, CBS, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Sony, and Time Warner. In comparison, the reaction to the heartbeat bill has been muted.
Hollywood may also have to contend with other states. On Wednesday, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) of Alabama signed a bill on Wednesday that safeguards unborn babies and allows abortions only “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy, and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.” Louisiana, which provides significant tax incentives to Hollywood, is moving toward approving its own heartbeat bill.
A petition is circulating at Change.org urging Hollywood firms to remain in Georgia, even while the signatories actually support abortion.and define themselves as a “resistance” to the current administration in the state. “To those who choose not to come to Georgia because of the actions of our government, we understand your reasoning. But please know this: Georgia’s hardworking women and many men in this industry will continue to be the resistance from the inside,” the petition reads. “With our voices, our art, and our daily boots on the ground, we’ll keep working for the leadership we deserve. Your condemnation is understandable, but what we really need most is allies.”