Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Names and faces


■ Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua have pulled production of their runaway slave drama “Emancipati­on” from Georgia over the state’s recently enacted law restrictin­g voting access. The film is the largest and most high-profile Hollywood production to depart the state since Georgia’s Republican-controlled state Legislatur­e passed a measure that introduced stiffer voter identifica­tion requiremen­ts for absentee balloting, limited drop boxes and gave the state Election Board new powers to intervene in county election offices and to remove and replace local election officials. Opponents have said the law is designed to reduce the influence of minority-group voters. In a joint statement, Smith and Fuqua — who are both producers on the project — said they felt compelled to move the production out of Georgia. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access,” Smith and Fuqua said. “The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscen­t of voting impediment­s that were passed at the end of Reconstruc­tion to prevent many Americans from voting.” “Emancipati­on” had been scheduled to begin shooting in June. Apple Studios acquired the film last year in a deal reportedly worth $130 million. Based on a true story, the film stars Smith as a slave who flees a Louisiana plantation and joins the Union Army. Hollywood’s response to the Georgia law has been closely watched because the state is a major hub of film production and boasts generous tax incentives. While some filmmakers have said they would boycott, major studios have so far been largely quiet.

■ Major, one of President Joe Biden’s German shepherds, will be moved from the White House complex to receive training after he was involved in a series of biting episodes, the East Wing said Monday. “Major, the Bidens’ younger dog, will undergo some additional training to help him adjust to life in the White House,” said Michael LaRosa, the spokesman for first lady Jill Biden. “The off-site, private training will take place in the Washington area, and it is expected to last a few weeks.” Major is about 3 years old and was adopted from the Delaware Humane Associatio­n after Joe Biden’s daughter sent him a Facebook post about a litter of puppies available for adoption. Once Joe and Jill Biden moved to the White House shortly after Inaugurati­on Day, Major and his older compatriot, Champ, were given walk-in privileges in the Oval Office and free rein on the South Lawn. That has changed since Major has bitten at least two people. Champ, who is more than a decade old, will stay behind at the White House. The Bidens also intend to move a cat into the White House, but on Monday, LaRosa did not provide a timeline for the feline’s arrival.

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