I love Hollywood bullies as much as the next guy. But I prefer them confined to the screen and served a healthy dose of justice before the credits roll.
Folks in Georgia probably feel as if they’re experiencing a real-life, if unwelcome, “Purple Rose of Cairo” moment. In that Woody Allen flick from the late 80’s, an on-screen character breaks the fourth wall and interacts with an adoring member of the audience.
For the people of Georgia, 100 actors have burst through their screens to scold them for daring to enact a law in their own state.
The so-called “heartbeat bill” would forbid abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at around six weeks. The bill passed the Georgia state Senate, has been sent back to the Georgia House for final approval, and the governor has vowed to sign it into law.
Enter actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who is intent on showing Georgia who’s the boss. The actress stars in a Netflix series titled “Insatiable,” which shoots in Georgia.
When Democrat Stacey Abrams lost her bid to be elected governor in November, Milano attempted to relocate the show to another state in protest. Due to “contractual obligations” -- and no doubt the tax incentives Georgia generously awards to film productions -- the producers told her it was not happening.
Now with the imminent passage of the “heartbeat bill,” Milano is at it again. This time she has gotten 100 actors to sign an open letter threatening a Hollywood boycott of the state if the bill is signed into law.
Here’s what they wrote: "We can’t imagine being elected officials who have to say to their constituents, ‘I enacted a law that was so evil, it chased billions of dollars from our state’s economy.’ It’s not the most effective campaign slogan, but rest assured we’ll make it yours should it come to pass. This is the precipice on which you stand ... we will do everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women if H.B. 481 becomes law.”
The question is: would unborn women be more or less “safe” if H.B. 481 is passed?
Bothersome questions aside, Milano gets points for chutzpah. Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, Mia Farrow (who was in the "Purple Rose of Cairo"), Sean Penn, Rosie O’Donnell (when did she last shoot in Georgia?) and others signed the boycott threat.
Georgia is presently the No. 3 film location in America. Hollywood doesn’t come for the sweet tea or peaches. Filmmakers come for the tax rebates -- the citizens of Georgia’s money. Up to 30% of filmmaker’s expenses are tax-free due to the actions of the same Legislature that Milano and company are now targeting.
No matter where one stands on the bill -- and I have heard pro-choice and pro-life arguments for and against the legislation -- this is a state law. It is up to the people of Georgia, not California or New York, to enact legislation that they feel best supports the life and liberty of the people in their state.
But for out-of-towners, particularly those who are benefiting from hundreds of millions of dollars of welfare, to harass a state over its internal business seems ungrateful, ungracious and in the end, unhelpful.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution claims that the state currently has done no cost-benefit analysis of the Hollywood tax giveaways -- the lifeblood of many a production. Given that Milano and company are essentially making a financial threat against the state, they might want to reconsider their position.
The boycott may provoke Georgia to investigate whether the movie tax rebates are really worth it -- and whether financing “Insatiable” and other productions is in the state’s interest. Their answers could cause heartbeats to stop all over Hollywood.