Alyssa Milano says she intends to honor the film production boycott of Georgia that she and dozens of other celebrities petitioned for after the state’s governor signed the controversial “heartbeat” abortion restriction into law. But despite dozens of other celebrities signing on to her petition, reaction from Hollywood and major production studios, which benefit from the state’s generous tax incentives, has remained muted.
The bill signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday will outlaw abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which typically occurs around week six, when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant. It goes into effect Jan. 1, but is expected to be challenged in court.
Milano is currently filming Netflix’s second season of Insatiable in Georgia, a show that was criticized when it was released in August for fat-shaming and a storyline featuring an adult male beauty pageant coach who is falsely accused of molesting a minor. The actor said she’s contractually obligated to stay in Georgia for another month, but won’t return to the show if it films there in the future.
“I have to be there for another month but you can be sure I will fight tooth and nail to move Insatiable to a state that will protect our rights,” Milano told BuzzFeed News in an interview that she only agreed to do over email. “And if it doesn’t move to another state, I will not be able to return to the show if we are blessed with a third season. This is my leverage. I will use it for the betterment of society and our great country.”
But Milano’s voice has not been part of the larger chorus that has previously consolidated around other calls for change, such as the #MeToo movement.
A representative for Netflix declined to comment, but referred BuzzFeed News to a statement from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), of which they're a member.
“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 MPAA said. “The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor developments.”
Meanwhile, Georgia has become a major location for film and television productions in recent years, thanks in large part to 2008 tax incentives. In March, Kemp said the entertainment industry employs 200,000 residents and has generated more than $60 billion in economic activity.
According to the nonprofit Film LA, a 2016 study found that 17 of the top 100 movies from that same year were filmed in Georgia. TV shows like Stranger Things, Ozark, Greenleaf, Watchmen, The Outsider, and the popular series The Walking Dead also film in the state.
On March 28, Milano petitioned Kemp and state Speaker of the House David Ralston to not sign the so-called heartbeat bill into law. The petition was signed by actors like Alec Baldwin, Amy Schumer, Judd Apatow, and Gabrielle Union, among others. But they have not publicly condemned the bill or vowed to also honor the boycott threat. And when contacted by BuzzFeed News, they either declined to comment or did not respond. Production companies and studios contacted by BuzzFeed News also either did not respond or declined to comment.
There have been some voices in Hollywood who have spoken out, however.
Busy Philipps used her platform on her late-night show Busy Tonight to talk about the Georgia law on Tuesday, telling viewers she had an abortion when she was 15.
“Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them. Nobody else, nobody,” she said.
Rosie O’Donnell, who also signed Milano’s petition, told BuzzFeed News she will “of course” follow through on not working in Georgia as long as the abortion law is in place.
“Anything we can do to bring attention to this archaic bill is positive,” O’Donnell said in an email. “I support a woman’s right to choose. I always have, I always will. I will do all I can to protect that right.”
David Simon, creator of Treme, The Wire, and The Deuce, also appeared ready to boycott.
“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 tweeted Wednesday. “I must undertake production where the rights of all citizens remain intact. Other filmmakers will see this.”
Milano said she’s working with states like Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to provide the same kind of tax incentives as Georgia to give studios the financial incentive to go elsewhere.
“Obviously, those who are already contractually obligated to be there, should fight to get their show out of Georgia while continuing their contractual obligation,” Milano said. “But I will do everything in my power to get as many productions as possible, including Insatiable, to move out of this state, which continues to put forth oppressive, hurtful policy that contradicts everything the entertainment industry stands for.”
The Writers Guild of America also told BuzzFeed News they stand by their March statement condemning the law, adding that it would make Georgia “an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry to work, including our members.”