Stacey Abrams, the Democrat from Georgia who earned national attention after narrowly losing her bid for governor last year, is urging Hollywood not to abandon the state over its new and more restrictive abortion law.
Some of the biggest names in film and television — including Walt Disney and WarnerMedia — have suggested they might boycott Georgia if the legislation survives court challenges. But Abrams, political allies and business leaders contend an economic boycott would serve to only deprive working-class people of jobs with no guarantee it would reverse a law that is being teed up to challenge Roe v. Wade.
Instead, they are mobilizing a “#StayAndFight” coalition intent on encouraging Hollywood power brokers to put their financial heft behind political candidates and groups challenging the law.
Abrams and the head of an abortion rights group will huddle with film industry leaders June 11 in Los Angeles, an Abrams spokesman confirmed Tuesday to The Washington Post. The meeting, which was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, will focus on the potential health-care and economic consequences the law might create.
Film industry workers also are organizing against a potential boycott, forming #StayAndFightGeorgia and raising money for the American Civil Liberties Union’s legal challenge to the abortion law.
The Georgia law, signed last month by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which typically occurs near the six-week mark and before many women know they are pregnant. More than a dozen states have adopted or are moving toward similar limits in efforts to challenge Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
The new abortion law sparked a backlash among the Hollywood studios that helped make filmmaking a $9.5 billion industry in the state, creating more than 90,000 jobs last year, according to a McKinsey study. Last week, Netflix — which films “Stranger Things,” “Insatiable” and “Ozark” there — was the first major studio to announce it might have to “rethink” its business there if the restrictions take hold. Disney, which shot the box-office heavyweights, “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Panther” in the state, quickly followed suit.
Smaller companies, including those run by actor-directors Mark and Jay Duplass, and “Wire” writer David Simon, as well as dozens of actors — including Alyssa Milano, Gabrielle Union, Mia Farrow, Don Cheadle and Patton Oswalt — are also on board with a possible boycott.
On Monday, AMC Networks said it, too, would “reevaluate” its activity in Georgia. The company films its hit show “The Walking Dead” in the Atlanta area. “Similar bills — some even more restrictive — have passed in multiple states and have been challenged. This is likely to be a long and complicated fight, and we are watching it all very closely,” the company said in a statement.
The industry pushback also has garnered attention on the 2020 campaign trail. During a CNN town hall Sunday, presidential hopeful Rep. Eric Swalwell said he would support a boycott. Then the California Democrat went further and suggested CNN, which has called Georgia home for nearly four decades, might want to move its headquarters away from Atlanta over the law.
The company did not respond to a request for comment. But last week, its parent company, WarnerMedia, said that “if the new law holds we will reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions."
As Hollywood celebrities have called on the major studios to leave the state, Abrams and her political allies have advocated a more long-term response — to use the industry’s resources to support grass-roots political and legal efforts. J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele, following her lead, recently said they would continue plans to shoot their coming series “Lovecraft Country” in Georgia but would donate their respective fees to the local ACLU chapter and to a voting rights group Abrams founded.
Meanwhile, Hollywood producer and investor Peter Chernin is trying to raise $15 million to help finance a legal challenge to the abortion law in Georgia and other states, according to the New York Times. His company and foundation have already donated $1 million to the effort, the Times reported, and he has reached out to senior executives at all the major movie studios, as well as to such names as Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and Shonda Rhimes. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
“We have a moral responsibility to act immediately,” he wrote in an email about the initiative that was forwarded to the Times.
The controversy over Georgia’s new restrictions on abortion is playing out over a broader battle for political control of the state legislature. Provoked by the successful passage of the “heartbeat bill,” Democrats in the state launched a new group Tuesday to target vulnerable Republican incumbents and flip the Georgia House in the 2020 election.