May 2, 2019 Decatur - A crew works on obvious movie set at an empty mall at North DeKalb Mall in Decatur on Thursday, May 2, 2019. North DeKalb is getting a new life as a site for film productions, turning vacant storefronts into fictional sets. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

‘Fear Street,’ ‘P-Valley’ producers are staying in Georgia, donating money to ACLU to fight ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill

Originally posted Wednesday, May 15, 2019 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Multiple sources tell me that TV and film productions that have planned to come to Georgia have decided to go elsewhere because of the fetal “heartbeat” anti-abortion bill Gov. Brian Kemp signed last week. 

But nobody is willing to give me specifics. The production companies clearly don’t want to burn bridges in Georgia by publicizing they were “boycotting” the state now in hopes of coming back later. 

Several production companies have publicly stated they won’t work in the state until this issue is resolved, including Color Force, the creators of the “Hunger Games” series, three of which were shot in the state. And many actors such as Gabrielle UnionSean Penn and Alec Baldwin said they will refuse to do any film or TV production in the state while this law is alive and well. 

What can a production company already working in Georgia do?

The creators of the “Fear Street” trilogy and the Starz series “P-Valley’ have taken the same route as Jordan Peele and J.J. Abramswho are producing an HBO drama: stay in Georgia and battle from within.

In a statement released today, Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping said they will make a “significant donation” to the ACLU to help battle the anti-abortion bill that restricts nearly all abortions after about week six. The ACLU plans to file a lawsuit to block its implementation before it goes into effect in 2020. 

The company is already in production on both projects. A boycott wasn’t really financially feasible. And they said they are aware that anti-abortion bills are being considered and passed in multiple states - not just Georgia.

“We also know that the only way to fight the massive, now national incursion on women’s rights is through a legal battle, a battle that needs funding and on the ground support via organizations like the ACLU who are powering up to overturn the law,” they wrote. 

Here is their complete statement:

When the “fetal heartbeat bill” was signed into law we were deep into production on two projects, our film trilogy Fear Street and the P-Valley TV series, so we were conflicted about contributing to the health of an economy and a state that had declared war on the rights and freedom of its women. On one hand, if we chose the boycott route, thousands of jobs would be lost ultimately damaging workers who rely on production for livelihood, including many women. We also know that the only way to fight the massive, now national incursion on women’s rights is through a legal battle, a battle that needs funding and on the ground support via organizations like the ACLU who are powering up to overturn the law. So our choice became pretty clear we will stay in Georgia, stand shoulder to shoulder with the women of that state and the states under attack, and fight to win. In doing so, we will be making a significant donation to the ACLU because whatever upside we have needs to be shared with the women everywhere who have the right as human beings to make medical decisions as sovereign individuals.

“Fear Street,” which is shooting at North DeKalb Mall, is a horror trilogy based on the R.L. Stine novels. 

Starz’ “P-Valley” is a drama set at a strip club called the Pink Pony in the Mississippi Delta

According to the 11Alive A-Scene, the producers of a Georgia-created horror film “Along Came the Devil 2” will also donate a portion of the film’s profits to the ACLU and Fair Fight Georgia:

Here’s the statement from Jason and Heather Devan

“We stand behind the women of Georgia and their fundamental right to choose. As we come to a close to our production of ALONG CAME THE DEVIL 2, we want to show our support by donating a portion of the proceeds from the film to ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia. Georgia is our home state. We have built a loving family here with our 3 kids along with our extended family - our hardworking and dedicated production crew. Together - we unite to fight this injustice.”

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.