06/04/2019 12:06 EDT

Hollywood Producer Launches $15 Million Campaign To Fight Abortion Bans

Peter Chernin wants the entertainment industry to take action beyond Georgia, one of several states to pass restrictive abortion legislation in recent months.

With a growing number of major Hollywood players threatening to boycott Georgia if its restrictive abortion law survives court challenges, a Hollywood producer is urging members of the industry to support the American Civil Liberties Union’s efforts to fight abortion bans around the U.S.

“As a friend and colleague in the film and TV industry, I write to you with a sense of urgency about the recent attempts to eliminate the right to abortion in Georgia and many other states across the country,” producer Peter Chernin wrote in an email last week, first obtained by The New York Times Monday. “I am launching a campaign to contribute to the $15 million that is needed to fund the ACLU’s legal efforts to battle the national anti-abortion movement with a deadline of July 1.”

The email was sent to executives at all of the major movie studios, as well as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, top Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, powerhouse television showrunner Shonda Rhimes and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Last month, Chernin — a former deputy to conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch who now produces movies and television shows — decided to proceed with plans to film two upcoming projects in Georgia, while making a donation to the ACLU.

Steve Granitz via Getty Images
Producer Peter Chernin and his wife, Megan, at the Oscars in 2017.

Similarly, directors J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele, producers of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” pledged to donate their salaries to the ACLU and Fair Fight Georgia, a voting rights organization led by former gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D).

Georgia’s generous tax credit program for film and television projects has attracted major Hollywood productions, directly generating $2.7 billion for the state’s economy in fiscal 2018.

Much of Hollywood has taken a wait-and-see approach to the law because it will not go into effect until 2020 at the earliest, pending a potentially lengthy legal battle.

Some industry professionals have expressed reservations about calling for a full boycott because of the economic impact it would have on film and television workers in Georgia — a concern raised by some female workers in the state, who circulated a petition advocating against a boycott.

Chernin also cited this reason in his email and called for a wider response beyond Georgia.

“Firing workers, most of whom oppose this legislation, does not seem like a just response,” he wrote. “Taking action against only Georgia felt like a highly narrow and targeted response to a national battle. Abandoning and isolating parts of the country that we don’t agree with strikes me as a dangerous response.”

Though many had initially kept silent, top executives at most major studios and corporations weighed in on the issue last week, including those at Netflix, Disney and WarnerMedia, the parent company of Warner Bros. and HBO.

All of them suggested they would reconsider doing business in the state if the law goes into effect.

Last week’s groundswell followed a number of individuals who said they would stop working in Georgia if the law survives court challenges.

On Monday, actress Laura Linney, who stars in the Netflix series “Ozark,” which films in Georgia, became one of the latest stars to express support for a boycott.

“The law is atrocious; it strips women and a lot of Georgians from their rights. Having said that, I’m also from generations of people who are from Georgia. I love the state of Georgia. I love the people who work there,” Linney told Variety, joining her “Ozark” co-star Jason Bateman, who said last month he would boycott the state if the law moves forward. “Pulling out is so upsetting to me, but I can’t see any other way around it.”