Actress Alyssa Milano reads her letter to Gov. Brian Kemp urging opposition to the “heartbeat” bill on the last day of the 2019 session of the Georgia Legislature. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The Jolt: This is why Stacey Abrams went to Hollywood

The actress Alyssa Milano, who spent much of this year in Georgia filming the Netflix series “Insatiable,” has a thing for boycotts.

Last November, in the wake of Democrat Stacey Abrams’ defeat in the race for governor, Milano proposed a film industry boycott of the state. The immediate word from Abrams: Please don’t.

In April, as the Legislature was poised to pass the controversial “heartbeat” bill to require women to carry pregnancies to term after six weeks, Milano was there to threaten a boycott again. Worried about union jobs, not a single Democrat was willing to be photographed with her.

This week, with House Bill 481 now the law in Georgia, Abrams made a special trip to Los Angeles to tamp down more talk of a Hollywood boycott.

"This is a situation where the political realities are that a boycott won’t have the intended effect,” Abrams said after meeting with industry leaders.

But Milano keeps plugging.

On Thursday, Variety displayed a color-coded map of the United States, offering up Milano’s assessments of where a woman’s right to choose is under threat, and where it is not. To make it easier for people in her business to decide where -- and where not -- to work.

It is a fine map. A beautiful map. It will be especially useful to those of Milano’s colleagues who do not subscribe to newspapers and so lack a basic knowledge of current events, or simply do not know where North Dakota is.

This is the part we found more interesting:

Milano is also in early discussions with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to develop a mobile app for location managers and scouts in Georgia, one that would “guarantee we can spend money in places that will not fund voter suppression, inequality and the stripping away of anyone’s rights.”

…Bottoms is said to be vetting voter data from her own election to map the city of Atlanta, and is encouraging local tech companies to engage.”

On its face, this is silly. Mayor Bottoms’ voter data would show only that the city of Atlanta is almost entirely pro-choice. (We’re told that Milano had a single conversation with Bottoms at one of two DNC events in Atlanta last week.) Here’s what raises an eyebrow:

“I walk into this house that someone owns and rents out for production, and in front of the sink is a ‘Brian Kemp for Governor’ kitchen mat,’ she said, “So I think to myself, every time we shoot on location outside of Atlanta, we are funding a hurtful policy.”

Milano estimates that “Insatiable” producers spent $30,000 for two days on that shoot — money she’d like to see go to Georgia residents aligned with pro-choice thinking — which is also in line with the fact that “70 percent of the country who believe in safe, legal abortions,” she said.

We suppose that one could create a map that would show the 78 of 180 state House districts whose representatives voted against HB 481. But some of that territory might overlap with the 34 of 56 state Senate districts whose lawmakers voted in favor of the anti-abortion legislation.

Car chases could become quite complicated.

If you were to go more granular than that, if someone wanted to build a Georgia database of individual homeowner attitudes toward a woman’s right to abortion, then the situation moves from darkly comedic to something else.

It would harken to that situation in the 1950s where workers in a certain West Coast industry -- actors who read newspapers would know which one -- were hauled up before government panels and questioned about their political affiliations.

Now you know precisely why Abrams went to Los Angeles this week.

***

In other “heartbeat”-related news, the ABA Journal reports that the American Bar Association recently decided to move its 2021 midyear conference from Orlando to Chicago instead of Atlanta.

The legal group, which shifted its meeting from Florida for economic reasons, initially considered convening in Atlanta. 

But the board selected Atlanta after 243 members signed a letter raising concerns about the anti-abortion restrictions. 

***

Brian Kemp was one of eight governors at the White House yesterday afternoon to meet with President Donald Trump on workforce development issues. One of your Insiders was taking her biannual turn in the White House pool rotation and saw the Republican’s exchange with Trump up close.

Sitting across from the president, Kemp thanked Trump for signing the disaster relief bill last week and urged for his administration to allow flexibility with the funding so “we can get that money out very quickly with transparency and put it to work.”

“Sonny (Perdue) is going to do a job on it, but it's going to go very quickly,” Trump responded, “and I think nobody else but this group (of governors) would have been able to get it. That was a tough thing to get, and we got it for our farmers and for a lot of people.”

Kemp also referenced his recent tour of a UPS driver training facility with Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka, who was also in the room, as well as the state’s QuickStart workforce training program and efforts to speed the licensing process for doctors and nurses.

***

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s announcement that he would move two of his department’s branches to Kansas City prompted a silent protest among his employees yesterday. CNN reports that staffers from the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the two agencies Perdue wants to relocate, turned their backs on the former Georgia governor as he made the announcement. Employees from both agencies have unionized over the last month to try and fight the move.

Perdue said relocating the agencies to the Midwest would provide “affordability, easy commutes, and extraordinary living for our employees.” His office released a cost-benefit analysis that estimated the move would save roughly $20 million a year. Critics, including several in Georgia, say it will hurt federal research and have pondered whether the move is retaliation for recent studies that have contradicted administration priorities.

***

A Massachusetts attorney has filed a complaint with the State Bar of Georgia against Jay Sekulow, a metro Atlanta attorney who is now counsel to President Donald Trump. The complaint arises from Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s allegations that Sekulow encouraged him to give false testimony to Congress regarding a Trump company’s efforts to build a hotel in Moscow.

Read the complaint here. A description from the accusing lawyer’s website:

Whitfield Larrabee is the founder and executive director of the Resistance Committee Action Fund, a political action committee. Mr. Larrabee is also an influential lawyer. He has initiated dozens of criminal, ethics, civil rights and election law cases against powerful people in government and politics.

***

Today’s job report:

-- White House hopeful Beto O’Rourke has hired veteran Georgia operative Chrystian Woods to serve as his national outreach director and focus on building what the Texas Democrat’s aides call the “largest grassroots campaign in history.” Woods, a native Georgian, is currently the interim executive director for the Democratic Party of Georgia.

-- We’re told that Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is lining up advisors for a possible run for U.S. Senate against first-term Republican David Perdue.

The logistics executive, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018, is said to be in talks with progressive pollster Cornell Belcher and Perkins Coie, a law firm with a large elections practice.

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