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Hollywood's Peter Chernin to raise $15M to fight anti-abortion laws

Netflix to fight Georgia's abortion bill
  • Peter Chernin, known for "The Greatest Showman" and "Hidden Figures," is launching a campaign to raise money for the ACLU.
  • He says he'll continue to film in Georgia, despite his opposition to anti-abortion legislation that recently passed in the state.
  • Chernin is calling on entertainment industry colleagues to join him in funding the ACLU's effort to fight the legislation.

Hollywood heavyweight Peter Chernin plans to fight Georgia and other states' anti-abortion laws -- but not through a production boycott. The producer, investor and Chernin Group founder is launching a campaign to help raise $15 million for the American Civil Liberties Union's fight against anti-abortion legislation, The New York Times reported. 

Chernin, who last month said he would move forward with production on two major projects in Georgia, said in a missive to industry colleagues last week that he's "launching a campaign to contribute to the $15 million that is needed to fund the A.C.L.U.'s legal efforts to battle the national anti-abortion effort," according to the Times. Chernin Entertainment is best know for producing "The Greatest Showman," "Hidden Figures" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." Its forthcoming projects in Georgia include a film series based on R.L. Stine's "Fear Street" novels and a TV drama "P-Valley."

The plea's recipients included such entertainment titans as Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, William Morris Endeavor co-CEO Ari Emanuel, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, Apple CEO Tim Cook and "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes, the Times reported.

Speed is key, Chernin said in the email: "We have a moral responsibility to act immediately," including a July 1 fundraising deadline. Through his company and family foundation, Chernin has already contributed $1 million to the cause, according to the report.

"Working breathlessly"

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said the fight against legislation banning abortion is a "top priority" for the civil rights organization. "We've already challenged the bans in Kentucky, Ohio, and Alabama, and we are working breathlessly to ensure that abortion remains legal and accessible to everyone in every state," the ACLU said in a statement to CBS News. 

Romero praised Chernin for his contribution and effort to keep lawmakers from meddling with women's rights. "We need all the help we can muster to keep politicians out of one of the most private and important decisions one can make. Peter Chernin's leadership in Hollywood has been critical to sounding the alarm among industry leaders, who have an important role to play in protecting abortion rights across the country," he said. 

Other media and entertainment companies have taken less of a blunt stand on the issue. AMC, Netflix, Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Sony Pictures, CBS and Showtime are among those that have made oblique references to boycotting states that restrict access to abortions. 

CBS and its Showtime division last week said Georgia and other states "may not be viable locations for our future production" should anti-abortion legislation be enacted. "Should it ever come into effect, we'd rethink our entire investment in Georgia," said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.

Boycott isn't "a just response"

Chernin justified his tack by reasoning that boycotting Georgia would harm workers without broadly addressing the issue at stake. "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," his letter read, according to the Times.  

Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele have said they'll continue to work in Georgia and donate their salaries from local projects to the ACLU, among other organizations.