Peter Chernin Sets Out to Raise $15M to Fight Anti-Abortion Laws

Peter Chernin GETTY H 2016
Getty Images

The producer sent an email to Hollywood's highest-ranking executives asking for donations by July 1.

A top Hollywood producer is adding more ammo to the industry's fight against the onslaught of anti-abortion legislation.

Peter Chernin has launched a campaign to raise money to battle the restrictive laws that have been popping up around the country. The former right-hand man to Rupert Murdoch has two projects that are about to start shooting in Georgia, where a "heartbeat bill" was passed May 7. Three weeks ago, the producer said Chernin Entertainment would move forward with its plans to shoot Fox's Fear Street trilogy and the Starz drama P-Valley, both projects his company produces, in the state, and would simultaneously donate money to the ACLU.

"As a friend and colleague in the film and TV industry, I write to you with a sense of urgency about the recent attempts to eliminate the right to abortion in Georgia and many other states across the country," Chernin wrote in an email last week obtained by The Hollywood Reporter (The New York Times first reported the news). "I am launching a campaign to contribute to the $15 million that is needed to fund the ACLU’s legal efforts to battle the national anti-abortion movement with a deadline of July 1."

The email was sent to high-ranking executives and the major studios and streamers, along with the industry's top moguls, including Ari Emanuel, Ted Sarandos, Shonda Rhimes and tech titans Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook. In the note, Chernin said he was working hand-in-hand with the ACLU's executive director Anthony Romero and that his company and family foundation had already donated a combined $1 million. "We have a moral responsibility to act immediately," he wrote.

Chernin and his producing partner Jenno Topping were two of the first in Hollywood to speak up about the abortion ban, opting to still film their upcoming projects in Georgia and pledge to help donate funds to fight the law in court. "While many of you support a full boycott if the law becomes effective next year, I am taking a more immediate and national approach," he continued in his email. "On the one hand, I didn’t want to support a state that was attacking the civil rights of half of its population. On the other hand, I was concerned with only boycotting the state."

Chernin then laid out three reasons why he didn't think boycotting was the best choice of action: It penalizes the local workers who depend on production to make a living; the attack on abortion rights is infiltrating other states besides Georgia; and it can be dangerous to abandon and isolate parts of the country that Hollywood doesn't agree with. "As a country, we have made consistent progress in areas like civil rights, free speech and LGBTQIA+ rights precisely because we have stayed active in every single part of the country," he wrote. "The withdrawal of thousands of enlightened and progressive workers from Georgia didn’t feel to me like the ideal way to achieve progress."

Last week, several major Hollywood studios joined the chorus of industry voices speaking out against Georgia's abortion law, which was signed by the governor last month. After Netflix's Ted Sarandos released a statement saying he may have to "rethink" the company's investment in Georgia should the law not be overturned and Disney's Robert Iger told a reporter that it wouldn't be "practical" to continue to work in the state, Viacom, CBS, Sony, AMC, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia and STX also weighed in on the matter.