AMC to rethink Georgia filming if abortion law takes effect

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ATLANTA (AP) – The network behind a show that’s become synonymous with Georgia says it will “reevaluate” its activity in the state if a new abortion law goes into effect.

“The Walking Dead” is an economic powerhouse and brings streams of tourists to the Georgia towns where it has been filmed.

A statement from AMC Networks calls the abortion legislation “highly restrictive” and says it will be closely watching what’s likely to be “a long and complicated fight” over the law. Georgia’s ban on virtually all abortions will take effect next year if it’s not blocked in the courts.

Georgia’s law is often referred to as a “heartbeat” law because it bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

AMC’s statement also mentions abortion bills in other states. That could put several states in what some observers have described as a “no-go zone” for TV and movie-making.

“Similar bills – some even more restrictive – have passed in multiple states and have been challenged. This is likely to be a long and complicated fight and we are watching it all very closely,” AMC said.

Alabama lawmakers have passed a measure that would outlaw almost all abortions. Its ban makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. An exception would be allowed if the mother’s health is at serious risk.

A long list of TV shows and movies have filmed in Alabama in recent years. They include the 2014 movie “Selma” that recounted pivotal points in the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Other movies shot in the state include “Get Out” and “Big Fish.”

AMC is joining several other TV and film companies expressing concerns over Georgia’s legislation, though no major studio has actually pulled out of the state.

“If the new law holds we will reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions,” WarnerMedia has said in a recent statement. WarnerMedia productions has been filming several pictures in Georgia, including the Warner Bros. film, “The Conjuring 3,” and the HBO show, “Lovecraft County.”

NBCUniversal has also weighed in on how abortion laws in multiple states might affect future productions.

“If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future,” the company said recently.

Georgia has a long history of luring TV and movie productions to away from southern California due to its tax credits for the industry. As a result, it has become known as the “Hollywood of the South.”

FILE – In this Sept. 27, 2018 file photo, from left to right, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln and Jeffrey Dean Morgan arrive at the LA Premiere of Season 9 of their show “The Walking Dead” in Los Angeles. The network behind the show that’s become synonymous with Georgia says it will “reevaluate” its activity in the state if a new abortion law goes into effect. The Walking Dead’s success has drawn steady streams of tourists to the Georgia towns where it has been filmed. A statement from AMC Networks calls the abortion legislation “highly restrictive” and says it will be closely watching what’s likely to be “a long and complicated fight” over the law. Georgia’s ban on virtually all abortions will take effect next year if it’s not blocked in the courts. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
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