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With their new HBO drama Lovecraft Country set to shoot in Georgia in the coming weeks, J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele are speaking out about the state’s newly passed abortion bill.
“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,” they said in a joint statement. “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.”
Abrams added that his production company Bad Robot and Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions will donate funds to fight the legislation. “We stand with Stacey Abrams and the hardworking people of Georgia, and will donate 100 percent 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,” he said. “We encourage those who are able to funnel any and all resources to these organizations.”
On Tuesday, the state’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a piece of legislation that’s been dubbed the “heartbeat bill” that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. It does, however, include exceptions, such as to save the life of the mother or for rape and incest — but only if a woman files a police report. Over the course of this week, several industry figures have called on Hollywood to withdraw production for the state.
So far, at least five productions companies have pledged to not shoot any projects in the state until the law is overturned. Christine Vachon, the CEO of Killer Films — the production banner behind such movies as Vox Lux, First Reformed and Carol — tweeted Thursday morning that the company will “no longer consider Georgia as a viable shooting location until this ridiculous law is overturned.”
The Wire and The Deuce creator David Simon, who runs Blown Deadline Productions, followed suit. “I can’t ask any female member of any film production with which I am involved to so marginalize themselves or compromise their inalienable authority over their own bodies,” he said, adding of his production outfit: “Our comparative assessments of locations for upcoming development will pull Georgia off the list until we can be assured the health options and civil liberties of our female colleagues are unimpaired.”
Producer Nina Jacobson, whose company Colorforce is responsible for such hits as Crazy Rich Asians and American Crime Story, quoted Simon’s tweet and wrote, “Ditto.” Mark Duplass, whose production company Duplass Brothers Productions has a four-picture film deal with Netflix, also alluded to the abortion bill Thursday on Twitter. “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?” And CounterNarrative films, which produced Netflix’s Triple Frontier, added its name to the list of companies that wouldn’t shoot in Georgia while the abortion law existed. “No Georgia filming on any of our projects until this law is gone,” tweeted producer Neal Dodson.
The MPAA, for its part, says it is watching the law closely and waiting on final court outcomes. “Film and television production in Georgia supports more than 92,000 jobs and brings significant economic benefits to communities and families,” says MPAA senior vp communications Chris Ortman. “It is important to remember that similar legislation has been attempted in other states, and has either been enjoined by the courts or is currently being challenged. The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor developments.”
Though the law is set to go into effect in January, there will almost certainly be a court fight to block it before then. “We will see you in court,” read a statement from the ACLU and the abortion ban’s passing. Similar abortion laws have been passed in other states recently, including Mississippi, Ohio and Kentucky. The latter’s attempt, however, was blocked by a federal judge in March. But with the makeup of the Supreme Court having changed with the recent appointment of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Georgia and the other states are hoping for a different outcome.
A previous version of this story misspelled the title of Lovecraft Country.
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