Newsom asks Hollywood to stop filming in conservative states

SACRAMENTO — Expanding his attack on Republican states for their stances on guns, civil rights and abortion, Governor Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday called on Hollywood to “walk the march” on liberal values ​​by bringing back their film and television productions from states such as Georgia and Oklahoma.

Mr. Newsom launched the challenge through a ad in Variety who asked the state’s left-leaning creative community to “take stock of your values ​​— and those of your employees — when doing business in these states.”

The Democratic governor simultaneously approved a legislative proposal on Wednesday providing for a five-year, $1.65 billion extension to California’s film and television production tax credit program.

It is the second time in recent weeks that Mr. Newsom has used California legislation as a stick to tear apart Republican leaders elsewhere. Last month, he signed a bill allowing residents to sue illegal gun makers and took the opportunity to rebuke Governor Greg Abbott of Texas for previously allowing his residents to sue abortion providers.

Mr. Newsom’s statements on Wednesday underscored the strain that escalating culture wars have placed on American businesses, particularly in states where the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade severely limited women’s reproductive rights.

Some of the nation’s biggest companies, including the Walt Disney Company, Netflix and Comcast, owner of NBCUniversal, have announced programs to help employees who need access to abortion but cannot get it in their native country. Hundreds of entertainment figures have also spoken out against Republican-run state policies that have weakened safeguards for LGBTQ people. Last week, some 400 television creators and showrunners publicly demanded that production companies protect pregnant employees in states where abortion is banned.

But the entertainment companies have yet to announce any major plans to cancel expansions or move offices. “king of tulsa“, Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming crime drama starring Sylvester Stallone, was filmed this summer for Paramount+ in Oklahoma.

In Georgia on Monday, Governor Brian Kemp announcement that film and television productions generated $4.4 billion in the state this fiscal year, a new record. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was filmed in the state, the governor noted, as was the fourth season of “Stranger Things.”

“I was pleased to name Gavin Newsom Oklahoma’s 2021 Economic Developer of the Year award and I’m happy to see him making a run for two years in a row,” Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt joked. in a statement Wednesday. Mr. Stitt took a similar swipe at the governor of California last year in reference to the state’s pandemic shutdowns, which Mr. Stitt said drove business in his state.

The Motion Picture Association, the trade group representing major movie studios and Netflix, declined to comment on Wednesday.

Moving a production can be exceptionally expensive and logistically complex, and some of the biggest companies in the entertainment industry are deeply invested in conservative-run states. Disney, for example, has maintained extensive operations in Florida despite a bitter and costly standoff between its employees and the state.

After Disney – under pressure from its employees – objected a Florida ban on LGBTQ-related instructions, state lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis stripped the company of the special authority it had over the tracts of land where Disney World and other properties are located. the society. Disney, meanwhile, has delayed the planned relocation of some 2,000 high-profile jobs from California to Florida.

Mr. Newsom has been in the at the heart of this power struggle for months, trolling Mr. DeSantis on Twitter and inviting Disney to rethinking your investments in Florida. The Variety announcement was the latest in a series of initiatives by Mr. Newsom to take his defense of “California values” to the national stage.

A $105,000 spot which raced in Florida last month – attacking Mr. DeSantis and urging Florida businesses to come to California – was the opening salvo of a nationwide effort by Mr. Newsom that included newspaper ads in Texas attacking Mr. Abbott on abortion restrictions and a high-profile trip to Washington, DC, to discuss gun laws, among other things.

Expanding his attacks to include Oklahoma and Georgia, Mr. Newsom has targeted not only two of California’s most aggressive rivals for film, TV and other content production, but also two of the most conservative states. of the country on social issues.

Oklahoma, which escalated aggressively film production incentives during the pandemic, prohibits almost all abortions since the inversion Roe v. Wade. And Georgia, which has one of the most generous film production incentive programs in the country, granted fetuses full legal recognition. This week, a Georgia tax agency discovered that pregnant women could take out a $3,000 personal loan tax exemption for any fetus with a detectable heartbeat.

Mr. Newsom noted that California’s abortion rights are among the safest in the country. The state has also enacted some of the strongest gun safety and civil liberties laws in the nation for LGBTQ people.

California’s film tax credit — which the state created in 2009 after productions began decamping for Canada — has been of questionable value, even with an expansion and revamp in 2014. The incentive allows filmmakers to recoup up to 25% of their expenses — up to the first $100 million — on crew salaries and other costs, excluding star salaries. But other states, including Georgia, offer deeper discounts.

Critics complain that the tax credit encourages bidding wars and rarely sustains productions over the long term. An analysis from 2019 by the nonpartisan Office of the State Legislative Analyst found that a third of the projects that received the grants likely would have been done in California anyway.

“While the credit has likely prompted some film and television projects to be made here, many other similar projects have also been made here without receiving any financial incentive,” the report said.

But Newsom boasted on Wednesday another study, conducted this year for the Motion Picture Association by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., which concluded that the California program had helped create more than 110,000 jobs and tens of billions of dollars in economic output. In recent years, the tax credit also helped bring shows like “American Horror Story,” “Veep,” and “Lucifer” from other states and countries to California.

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