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California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom called on the Hollywood film industry to bring back production moved to Oklahoma and Georgia amid pandemic lockdowns and rising crime, criticizing the Republican-controlled states over policies against abortion in a new ad published in Variety.
The full-page spread, paid for by the Newsom campaign, is titled: “Hollywood: Your values, Your choice.”
“California is the best place in America to create. For 100 years, we’ve been the home for storytelling and storytellers. Together we built a creative community that includes unrivaled cast, crews, craftspeople, infrastructure, and technology. Robust tax credits and other incentives. The best culture,” the ad says. “Most importantly, we share your values. So now, it’s time to choose.”
“Over the past several years, the legislatures of states like Georgia and Oklahoma have waged a cruel assault on essential rights,” Newsom, who is reportedly quietly mulling a 2024 presidential run, wrote. “Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s abhorrent decision overturning Roe v. Wade, those same states are quickly moving to strip reproductive freedoms.”
This comes as Newsom also announced on Wednesday his support for a bill to invest $1.65 billion in California’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program to extend it for an additional five years, through 2030. This program allocates $330 million per year in tax credits for the industry.
“As other states roll back people’s rights, California will continue to protect fundamental freedoms for all and welcome businesses that stand up for their employees,” Newsom said in a statement. “Extending this program will help ensure California’s world-renowned entertainment industry continues to drive economic growth with good jobs and a diverse, inclusive workforce.”
Meanwhile, Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp had already announced on Monday that film and television production generated $4.4 billion in the state this fiscal year.
Four of the top six spots for highest domestic-grossing movies were filmed in Georgia: “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home, “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Kemp noted that streaming and limited series continue to choose Georgia for hit programming, including Season Four of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which reached an all-time Nielsen streaming record in July for its more than 7 billion minutes of viewing time during the first half of the season. That and Georgia-lensed Netflix hit “Ozark,” each earned 13 Primetime Emmy nominations in July. Emmy nominations also came in for HBO Max’s “The Staircase,” Disney+’s “Loki” and FX’s “Atlanta” among others, totaling 46 nominations for productions in the state.
“When the pandemic struck, we worked hard in Georgia to communicate with our partners in the Georgia film, TV, and streaming industries,” Kemp said in a statement. “Together, we forged a safe and appropriate path to allow the film industry to return to operations and deliver Georgia Made productions to eager consumers all around the world – even when some states continued to stay shut down and stifle the industry’s return to normalcy.”
Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt reacted to Newsom’s ad in a tongue-in-cheek statement, saying he was “happy to name Gavin Newsom Oklahoma’s Economic Developer of the Year Award in 2021, and I’m glad to see he’s making a run for two years in a row,” according to a statement reported by the New York Times.
“Instead of attacking strong conservative leadership in red states like Oklahoma, perhaps Gavin Newsom should focus on addressing his state’s income tax, which is the highest in the nation, out-of-control energy costs, endless violent crime, people shooting up drugs in the streets, chronic homelessness, high cost of living, gridlock traffic, and rolling blackouts,” Stitt’s spokeswoman added in a statement to Fox News Digital. “If he needs pointers on how to actually run a state, he should give Governor Stitt a call.”
In the Variety ad, Newsom argues that conservative states such as Georgia and Oklahoma are launching attacks that “are not occurring in secret,” but rather are carried out “brazenly and with the intent to cause pain in the communities they target — many of whom are essential to the success of your industry.”
“Today more than ever, you have a responsibility to take stock of your values — and those of your employees — when doing business in those states,” the ad says. “California is the freedom state.”
Newsom touts California as ensuring the freedoms to “tell your stories,” to access healthcare including abortions, to “love who you love and to ensure your LGBTQ friends, family and colleagues can proudly be who they are.”
The ad says California offers freedom “from repressive state governments that want to tell you what to believe and threaten you with felonies if you don’t toe their line.”
“So to those in power to make decisions about where to film, where to hire, where to open new offices, we in California say: Walk the walk,” it says. “Choose freedom. Choose creativity. Choose California.”