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Los Angeles mayoral candidate Karen Bass cautioned Hollywood studios and networks to think twice before considering a production boycott of states that ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court in the coming months.
“We want to be careful,” the Democrat told TheWrap in an interview Tuesday at a rooftop fundraiser at the Santa Monica office of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot. “If the industry does move out, who does that hurt? It doesn’t impact the state officials. It impacts the working people of that state.”
Bass, who has spent much of the last 11 years in Washington, D.C., representing California’s 37th congressional district (Inglewood, Culver City, West L.A. and the area surrounding USC), is now considered to be in a dead heat with billionaire developer Rick Caruso in the race to replace Eric Garcetti as L.A.’s mayor.
In April, the Los Angeles Times reported that Caruso had spent more than $23 million (mostly in splashy TV ads), compared to Bass’ $800,000. In the last few days, the field has narrowed to Bass, Caruso and current L.A. Councilman Kevin de Leon. Mail-in voting for the primary is currently underway, with in-person voting taking place on June 7 ahead of a November contest between the top two finishers.
Despite her nuanced take on abortion-related production boycotts, Bass said she isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and duke it out, if she feels it will make a significant impact. “Like the ridiculous fight that’s going on now in Florida with Disney World,” she said, referring to Republican Gov. Rick DeSantis’ aggressive legislative and rhetorical attacks on the Hollywood conglomerate. “We know that guy is trying to be Trump II, and so why he chose to pick on Mickey Mouse is beyond me!”
She also noted her long-time support of other Hollywood-related issues during her decades in politics, both at the state and national level. “Years ago, I was helping the industry diversify the below-the-line crafts,” she said. “I worked with an organization called Workplace Hollywood to create a program that was picked up by West L.A. College, so that young people can go and learn the different crafts. And then when I went into the state House, I was involved in securing tax credits to keep production in the state of California. And then in Washington, D.C., I’ve been working on piracy and copyright.”
That history helped explain the support she found from top industry figures at Tuesday’s fundraiser. “She’s of the city,” Abrams told the roughly 100 guests as they noshed on crudité and chips ‘n’ dip. “She was born here. She was raised here. She’s learned what the city is about, why it is currently hurting, and what to do about it.”
Norman Lear, who celebrates his 100th birthday last July, was even more effusive. “I am utterly devoted to Karen Bass,” the legendary TV producer gushed. “That woman knocked me out tonight. I wish she were running for the presidency.”
When Bass was told of Lear’s comments, she seemed genuinely flattered. “I grew up with this man! He is an icon. And the fact that he noticed me at all was huge. It’s probably the biggest thing that’s happened to me tonight,” she laughed.
“Yellowstone” star Josh Holloway said he made the two-hour drive from his home in Santa Barbara just to hear Bass speak. “I have had a real problem with the homeless situation for a long time. It’s something that hurts me deeply when I see it, having grown up on a dirt road in Georgia,” he said. “She has the right ideas, and I fully support that.”