The Slatest

Hollywood Targets Georgia’s New Anti-Abortion Law, Showing Its Growing Influence—and Reliance—on the State

A billboard advertises a Netflix television series on Hollywood Boulevard on May 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Hollywood squares off with the state of Georgia over new heartbeat abortion bill. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Hollywood heavyweight Peter Chernin is raising money to fund a legal battle against the growing number of states enacting anti-abortion laws that severely limit access to the procedure, the New York Times reports. Chernin, who was once a top executive for Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp. before starting his own company, is soliciting contributions to a $15 million legal fund to combat anti-abortion laws generally, but with a special emphasis on the state of Georgia. Georgia enacted a so-called heartbeat bill last month and has become a battleground over the issue as the home to extensive Hollywood production activity that now employs 92,000 people in the state.

“I am launching a campaign to contribute to the $15 million that is needed to fund the A.C.L.U.’s legal efforts to battle the national anti-abortion effort,” Chernin wrote in an email to potential donors last week, including Jeff Bezos, Ari Emanuel, Ted Sarandos, Tim Cook, and Shonda Rhimes, according to the Times. “We have a moral responsibility to act immediately,” Chernin wrote. The best way for Hollywood to confront the issue in Georgia, however, isn’t totally clear. “[T]he entertainment industry has a particularly cozy relationship with Georgia, which offers a 20 percent state tax credit (and another 10 percent if the Georgia Film Commission’s logo is shown in credits) to film and television production companies,” according to the Times, and “[u]ntil last week, there was near total silence from companies like Netflix, Disney and Warner Media.” The state has played a part in the production of Marvel films Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as the AMC series The Walking Dead and Netflix’s Ozark.

“Georgia has become a crucial hub for production because of hefty tax breaks, but the state’s new anti-abortion legislation—signed into law on May 7 and taking effect in January—has put Hollywood’s liberal politics on a collision course with its economic interests,” the Times reports. “Some actors have called for a boycott. But moving production to other locales would be costly and would penalize Georgia workers—many of them women—who depend on Hollywood for their livelihoods. Studio executives have privately worried that taking a stand against the issue might hurt ticket sales in huge swaths of the country, where many oppose abortion.”