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Georgia Calls Off Hollywood Event, Governor Pushes Studio Meetings to Fall Amid Abortion-Bill Tension (EXCLUSIVE)

Georgia Secretary of State and Republican
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As tension escalates over a controversial abortion bill in Georgia, the state film office has called off a Los Angeles celebration touting its industry ties, numerous individuals familiar with the event set for next week told Variety.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is pushing that event, dated for May 22 at West Hollywood’s Sunset Tower hotel, and his previously reported meetings with top studio executives to the fall, an individual with knowledge of his plans said. The changes come as show business weighs boycotting Georgia as a production hub, following Kemp’s signing of HB 481 — a bill that seeks to outlaw abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

In the meantime, Kemp will pivot to local strategy, the insider added, by embarking on a tour of state production facilities and vendors in efforts to “reaffirm” his commitment to the industry. In a statement last week, the MPAA estimated that film and television production accounts for 92,000 jobs in Georgia.

The May 22 event was to mark an annual cocktail party, known as “Georgia Night,” in industry circles. Georgia’s film office rescinded invites to studios including Disney, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and Netflix.  Former governors including Kemp’s predecessor, Nathan Deal, have attended the mixer in previous years.

Representatives in offices for Kemp and the Georgia Department of Economic Development had no comment on the matter.

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C-suite executives do not typically attend Georgia Night, one insider added, rather heads of production and other vendors who have enjoyed Georgia’s generous 30% production tax rebate for years. While Georgia made the move to call off the event, another knowledgeable insider said the studios have been struggling internally over supporting the state.

Outspoken creators in Hollywood view the legislation as threatening to women’s reproductive rights, like producers Christine Vachon and Mark Duplass, and actors like Alyssa Milano (a vocal proponent of women’s issues, who is living in Georgia on the set of her Netflix series “Insatiable”).

Producers J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele will remain in the state to film their HBO series “Lovecraft Country,” but will donate their producer fees to charitable causes supporting the suppression of HB 281 becoming law, which is set for Jan. 1 lest a higher court strike down the measure.