How Georgia's Abortion Law Is Affecting the TV Shows Filmed There
Film and TV productions including Stranger Things and The Walking Dead have thrived on substantial tax breaks in Georgia, so much so that the state has become known “Y’allywood.” But in early May, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a restriction that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and liberal-leaning Hollywood has taken notice. Some creative forces in front of and behind the camera have proposed a boycott in hopes of reversing the state’s decision.
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Netflix, for example, may stop filming in the Peach State if the law goes into effect in January. “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer, said in a statement first published by Variety.
“It's why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we'll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we'd rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
In addition to Stranger Things, Netflix series Ozark and Insatiable — and the upcoming Raising Dion — have filmed in Georgia. Ozark’s Jason Bateman and Insatiable’s Alyssa Milano have vowed to stop working in Georgia if the law goes into effect, per The New York Times.
Reed Morano, an Emmy-winning director known for her work on The Handmaid’s Tale, scrapped her plans to film the upcoming Amazon drama The Power in Georgia in light of the new law. “We had no problem stopping the entire process instantly,” Morano told TIME. “There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there. … I think this is one of the ways where we know we can hit a state where it hurts.”
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Meanwhile, the upcoming HBO horror series Lovecraft Country will continue to film in Georgia, though producers J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele have vowed to donate earnings from the show to groups fighting the new abortion law, according to Deadline. Additionally, WarnerMedia, HBO’s parent company, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that it will “reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions” if the new law holds.
AMC, whose mega-hit The Walking Dead films in Georgia, also released a statement. “If this highly restrictive legislation goes into effect, we will reevaluate our activity in Georgia,” a spokesperson for the channel told THR. “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.”
Sony also sounded off in a statement via a spokesperson, which reads, "As the MPAA has noted, the outcome of the Georgia ‘Heartbeat Law,’ and similar proposed legislation in other states, will be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor that process in close consultation with our filmmakers and television showrunners, talent and other stakeholders as we consider our future production options."
Other studio execs, on the other hand, are only speaking out anonymously, like the ones who tell the Times they’re hoping a lower court will strike down the law before it goes into effect.
For his part, Governor Kemp seems unfazed by the proposed boycott. “We are the party of freedom and opportunity,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.”