Georgia law

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, a new movie set to reunite Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, and an Amazon Prime Video show called The Power have abandoned their plans to film in Georgia due to the state’s restrictive anti-abortion law. Meanwhile, the neighboring state of Alabama (which has its own set of Draconian abortion laws in place) refuses to air an episode of the animated series Arthur which depicts the anthropomorphic aardvark’s teacher in a same sex wedding.

Welcome to America in 2019, folks.

First, Time Magazine reports that those two Hollywood projects have pulled out of the state. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar marks the first reunion between Wiig and Mumolo, who will co-write and co-star in this Lionsgate movie about two Midwestern friends who head to Florida on a vacation and get caught up in a villain’s plot to kill everyone in Vista Del Mar. The Power is an Amazon series that explores what happens when teenaged girls across the globe suddenly develop the ability to electrocute people at will and reverses the power balance in the world.

Director Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale) was set to start scouting locations for The Power in Georgia, but after Governor Brian Kemp signed a “heartbeat” bill that basically bans abortion after six weeks, Morano pulled the plug and shifted her focus elsewhere. “We had no problem stopping the entire process instantly,” she told Time. “There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there.”

The abortion part of this conversation shouldn’t be divisive – say it with me now: let women control their own bodies – but the industry’s initial response to this new legislation seems to have resulted in some confusion about the best way forward. Former Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams says she respects Hollywood productions’ idea for complete boycott of filming in the state, but ultimately she doesn’t think it’s the most effective strategy for change. Abrams and others who disagree with the idea of a boycott say that one “will not have the effect of actually stopping the laws,” instead suggesting that people donate to groups which advocate for equal reproductive rights. A boycott would hurt the state’s economy, yes, but that also means it would hurt the local residents who work in the film industry. Abrams’ solution appears to be to convince the Georgian electorate to vote Kemp and his ilk out of office. According to State Senator Jen Jordan, “If [film workers] stay here and help elect people that really reflect the values of everyone in the state, that’s when you’re going to see real change.”

On the other hand, Morano thinks quick action is the best solution:

“I’m sorry if the work moves away from where you live. But having this basic fundamental right for women is more important than anything in this moment in time…The best thing we can hope for is if everyone has a united stance and pulls the money out. Maybe we can have a quick reversal to these laws and then everyone gets what they want.”

But a united stance is proving difficult to achieve. J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele’s new HBO series Lovecraft Country will continue to film in Georgia, with Abrams and Peele donating 100% of their respective episodic fees for this season to the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia. Disney has yet to release a statement about the anti-abortion bill, despite the fact that Georgia has become a major production hub for that studio (many of the Marvel Studios movies are filmed there) and they threatened to pull out of the state back in 2016 when an anti-LGBTQ bill was in danger of passing. It seems like a consensus is a difficult thing to reach when so much money is at stake, and it’ll be interesting to see how various studios and production companies continue to react when this bill is passed into law on January 1, 2020.

Elsewhere, Alabama Public Television is refusing to air the Arthur episode entitled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” in which Arthur’s teacher is involved in a gay wedding. Because apparently they think it would be horrible for the next generation of kids to learn ideas like openness and acceptance. Wouldn’t want that! Great job, Alabama.

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