Netflix’s Ted Sarandos will ‘rethink’ filming in Georgia if the abortion ban is implemented

2019 Independent Spirit Awards

Several states are currently trying to pass sweeping restrictions on abortion and women’s reproductive health services. The idea is, of course, to overturn Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut. That’s the endgame: criminalize abortion, criminalize birth control, criminalize gynecological services, punish poor women for being poor, punish women for being women. It all feels so inevitable, especially after Brett Kavanaugh. This was always the endgame. This was always the “culture war” of the Trump presidency. We’ve had misogynist presidents before, and we’ve had presidents who didn’t believe in women’s fundamental reproductive rights. But we’ve never before seen this toxic blend of violent misogyny, ignorance and no checks on the president’s power.

Georgia was the first state to get the ball rolling this time around. What’s interesting about that is that Georgia has been experiencing a ton of economic growth and new industry because of their lenient tax laws/generous incentives. There’s an entire cottage industry of Hollywood films and TV shows being shot in Georgia. So which production companies, studios, producers and streaming outlets will take a stand against Georgia’s draconian abortion law? Very few.

Many of Hollywood’s most powerful content companies have maintained a deafening silence on the raging abortion legislation debate that’s sweeping the country as their star talent and producers go off script to speak out about threats to women’s reproductive rights and boycott states like Georgia that have signed the bills. Protests are erupting on the ground and across social media as seven other states — including Alabama, Missouri and Ohio — also adopt anti-abortion laws. Most of the industry uproar is currently focused on Georgia, where a massive number of Hollywood movies and TV shows film thanks to a highly favorable state tax incentive.

Following Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s May 7 signing of a bill that aims to outlaw abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, powerhouse female creators like “The Handmaid’s Tale” breakout director Reed Morano and the Oscar-nominated writing team behind “Bridesmaids,” Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, abandoned plans to film in the state. Actor and talk-show host Busy Philipps fronted an ad campaign with the ACLU countering what she said is an attempt by the Trump administration to undermine the nearly 50-year-old precedent set by Roe v. Wade, via multistate anti-abortion bills. Actors like “Titanic” star Frances Fisher and local women in the film industry picketed on the steps of Atlanta City Hall.

Media companies with deep financial investments in the state have so far remained mum on the matter. Not one major studio would comment on the ongoing issue when approached by Variety, including the film and TV divisions at The Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Fox and Amazon Studios.

The only company to respond to Variety’s inquiries was Netflix. “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, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in an exclusive statement. “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.” CBS referred Variety to comments made by its entertainment president Kelly Kahl, who said at the network’s recent upfront presentation that he would monitor the bill’s progress toward becoming law.

[From Variety]

I truly appreciate Ted Sarandos trying to be a good ally to women, and mostly succeeding. I hope he backs up those words with action if and when the legislation is implemented. I hope he’s already preparing for it, just as I hope other studios and production companies are preparing for the worst. Even though Time’s Up is not specifically about reproductive rights, the whole movement of Time’s Up has changed the way women in the industry speak to each other, and speak to men in power. I imagine there will be SO many actresses, producers and directors who just flat-out refuse to work in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and Ohio right now. And that’s probably one of the most effective methods for combating this glut of misogyny: attacking the economics of it. We’ve spent decades (if not centuries) trying to make the argument that women are full citizens who shouldn’t have to play a game of point-counterpoint on the issue of equality and human rights. It hasn’t worked. Debating this sh-t has not worked. Maybe hitting them in the wallet will work.

And yes, I know The Handmaid’s Tale is on Hulu not Netflix, but I just wanted to use some photos from The Handmaid’s Tale.

Brad Pitt en route to the Biennale art event in Venice, Italy

Brad Pitt en route to the Biennale art event in Venice, Italy

Photos courtesy of Hulu, WENN.

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25 Responses to “Netflix’s Ted Sarandos will ‘rethink’ filming in Georgia if the abortion ban is implemented”

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  1. Ellie says:

    Yes, but I have a lot of friends – male too but a ton of female – who would would be hurt if they stopped filming here. Most helped build the industry how it is here, and unlike above the line vocal folks like Alyssa Milano, they can’t afford to pack up and move. Pulling out of Georgia would punish them immensely for something they didn’t do.

    It has been amazing to watch women here pull together petitions and protests against abortion bans and the state of politics in general here, though. They are some powerful, amazing ladies.

    • Wow says:

      Seriously, I live in one of these states. These boycotts further hurt women who deal with enough issues getting jobs as it is.

      Stop finding new ways to hurt women and just codify roe v. Wade into law.

      • Algernon says:

        They won’t do that without being made to suffer first, though. We absolutely need a law protecting reproductive health and rights, but especially right now, it won’t happen unless the states are economically disenfranchised first. It really sucks for all the workaday people who will be hurt, but there is no other way to communicate with these backwards politicians. They only thing they will understand is if their economy crashes because no one wants to work in their neanderthal state.

    • stormsmama says:

      Make sure you encourage your friends to be vocal, to be vigilant, and to vote…

      • Wow says:

        We can vote until the cows come home, unfortunately for the old and past the age of procreation that far far out number young people and more so young women. I have black family members who vote Republican because they are anti abortion and rattle on and on about how planned parenthood want to exterminate black babies. Its pure insanity.

        What needs to happen is for row v. Wade to be codified into law.

    • Eleonor says:

      This was one of the point of Emma Thompson interview: she said she has pulled out of the film because she can, but other people’s who have bills to pay cannot afford this kind of choice.

    • Chloe says:

      Agreed. Nymag had a great piece about how boycotting in GA will only make the state redder. What we need now is people who are willing to stay, make residency in GA and fight even harder.

      • EnnuiAreTheChampions says:

        Yes! This article really captures it. I really appreciate what people like Jordan Peele are doing — staying and fighting.

    • kerwood says:

      If EVERYBODY decides that fighting for women’s reproductive rights are okay as long at THEY’RE not inconvenienced, how is change going to happen? The women who will be the most affected by this draconian law have the least power and agency. So people who are fortunate enough to be able get an abortion if they need to might have to suffer a little.

  2. Original Jenns says:

    Unfortunately innocent people will be hurt but protests and pickets will only go so far. Many more women would be truly devastated here and around the country if something isn’t done. I hope this anti women law fails in Georgia and your friends are ok, but in the long run, this is another battle in the war against women and people of color.

    • Esmom says:

      I tend to agree. It’s extremely unfair and unfortunate that those in the film industry in GA would be caught in the crossfire but boycotts are often the only way to get the attention of these regressive lawmakers.

      • Wow says:

        Making an actual law to support the roe v. Wade ruling would get their attention also. I don’t understand why we keep fighting this at the state. We have the house, someone go do some actual legislating and fix it at the root. Don’t punish innocent people ESPECIALLY innocent women. I can’t explain how difficult it is to find a good job down here as a young woman. People who want to punish huge portions of people for a few peoples bad actions should feel ashamed of themselves.

        Guess what? They don’t care. It hurts the community not them directly. A grenade is not a precision weapon.

      • Algernon says:

        @ Wow

        Because we don’t have the senate, or the presidency, or the courts. Proposing a bodily autonomy bill now *will* fail. It will not make it out of the house. If we take control in 2020, though, it should be an absolute top priority for a democratic administration. There is a great article, I think on Vanity Fair, about how degrading reproductive rights are as much the fault of spineless democrats who have never fought for a proper law on the books about it. It’s time for dems to stand up and guarantee some rights. They could just add it to the Equal Rights Amendment and push to actually get the ERA ratified.

        When Roe v Wade was decided in the 1970s RBG said it was a bad thing for women’s rights and I did not understand her until this year, but she was right. The legal precedent gave politicians an out from ever having to try and legislate a woman’s right to choose. They absolutely should do that, but also realize it will not pass until there is democratic control of the government. In the meantime, a boycott is the only way to communicate to politicians that the majority is against this.

      • EnnuiAreTheChampions says:

        Except that a boycott absolutely will not get the attention of these regressive lawmakers, and the idea that a film industry boycott will change their minds ignores the nature of Georgia. The film industry primarily benefits Atlanta and the area just south of Atlanta where Pinewood Studio is located. These areas already vote blue. The voters in these areas are represented by the Democrats who voted against this bill, and they voted for Stacey Abrams. And if you think the Republican-voting white people in the suburbs north of Atlanta, or the people in the more rural/small-town parts of the state care that “Hollywood types” want to punish Atlanta for this terrible bill, you clearly haven’t spent much time in the American South.

        Brian Kemp and the far-right GOP lawmakers who pushed this bill through care about one thing — keeping Georgia red. These boycotts will do nothing to turn their base against them, so the boycotts will do nothing to change their minds. Meanwhile, boycotts would stem the growing tide of blue voters that the film industry has brought, which enabled us to flip the 6th congressional district, and to at least make the 2018 gubernatorial election a close one.

        Look, if the argument of companies like Netflix is that they can’t ask female employees to move to Georgia for a production because of this medieval law, I get it and I can’t argue with that. But they shouldn’t pretend that pulling out is supporting the women of Georgia, because it isn’t. It’s abandoning us.

      • Algernon says:

        @ Ennui

        You’re right, the Atlanta area is already blue and boycotting might not hurt the red parts of the state. I just have a hard time believing the loss of revenue wouldn’t end up impacting the state over all. It’s *a lot* of money coming into the state. If Netflix pulled out, if Marvel pulled out, if all those jobs, the rental income, the retail/sales tax is lost, someone would probably notice in the state budget office. That revenue doesn’t necessarily stay in the blue districts where it originates.

        Working for a commercial production company, the exact conversation we are having is whether or not we can ask the women we work with to go spend a few months in a place where we know they do not have equal rights. If a boycott really materializes (this is just talk, Netflix probably won’t do anything, and no big production company working out of Atlanta is making a stand so far), it will probably be due to this question. Can we send women somewhere we *know* they are unsafe?

      • EnnuiAreTheChampions says:

        @algernon, I do think a boycott will impact the state as a whole, but to assume this will change the GOP’s mind is to assume that they are motivated by the state’s best interests. And I think that’s a false assumption.
        The only thing that would sway the GOP is losing votes, and these boycotts won’t make that happen. The economic harm to the state’s red areas would be less visible than the harm to Atlanta, and harder to attribute to the boycott. For voters there to turn against the GOP, they’d have to understand that their schools have less money now BECAUSE of the boycott, which happened BECAUSE of the anti-choice law, which happened BECAUSE they voted those cretins in to begin with. I don’t think they’re paying close enough attention to make those connections.
        As to your second argument about protecting film industry women who don’t already live in Georgia, as I said, I can’t dispute it. It’s valid. Just understand that boycotts won’t change this law, and won’t bring anything but harm to women who do live here.

  3. Karen2 says:

    @Wow. When Angela Davis got sent to jail she said she felt no ill will to the female custodians cos that was one of the few vocations open to them. 50 years ago. 😢

    • Wow says:

      Yes, as a black woman in the south this boycott is as disgusting and over privileged as the law is. I am exhausted by everyone. No one really wants to help, they just want to punish.

      Punish women, punish people, punish a whole state. Everyone needs to grow up, stop focusing on punishment and take the fight to Washington and make them codify roe v. Wade into law. Create a positive lasting change instead of punishing people.

  4. Mellie says:

    I’m from Indiana and there is a mess going on here right now too… I need a RBG shirt stat, she is one of our only allies right now.

  5. Beth says:

    I don’t think anything short of an Amendment to the constitution will keep the GOP-packed courts from striking down laws at the state and federal level. These are dark times.

  6. CES says:

    The messed up thing is I feel these men who want to outlaw abortion will gladly get one if they got pregnant or if their mistress got pregnant. It’s okay then. I’m so sick of hypocrisy running this country.

  7. Tashiro says:

    I’m in favor of the film industry working in Georgia and donating to the various causes working to protect women’s reproductive rights. Be visible and be loud.

  8. lolalola3 says:

    I’m sorry if local Georgians experience difficulties with project cancellations but, ah, you locals elected these A-holes in the first place so if the trickle-up damage has to open, time to open the spigot.

  9. Chaz says:

    It’s unfortunate that jobs will be lost, but the only thing that talks is money and power.