Documentary Screening

Deciding Vote


Wednesday, August 23

7 PM


Carriage House Theater

About the Program

Join us for a screening of the new documentary from Wheelhouse Creative, Deciding Vote which explores the story of former New York State assemblyman, George Michaels. George Michaels was a prominent member of Auburn’s Jewish community and a veteran of World War II. He entered politics in the tumultuous era of the 1960s, and became a central figure in paving the way for abortion rights in the US when his switched vote barely passed New York’s law legalizing abortion in 1970. The screening will be followed by a Q&A discussion with the filmmakers and Michaels family. 

Film Description

Over 50 years ago, New York State assemblyman George Michaels cast a single vote that changed the course of American history but destroyed his political career in the process. For the first time, Deciding Vote shares the story of how Michaels defied his conservative constituents by casting the critical tie-breaking vote on a bill which legalized abortion in the state of New York, laying the groundwork for Roe v Wade. The film is a moving tribute to a now-forgotten act of political courage.

Deciding Vote was recently shown at the DC/Dox Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. The film won the Richard D. Propes Social Impact Award at the 2023 Indy Shorts International Film Festival. Learn more at:


The film screening is free, although donations to the Cayuga Museum will be greatly appreciated. Reservations are strongly encouraged as space is limited! Click the button below to make a reservation.


Robert Lyons, Jeremy Workman


Kristen Bye

Executive Producers

Doron Steger, Sherry Steger


Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Karen Rodriguez, Lynn Weissman, Jeremy Workman


Jeremy Workman, Robert Lyons, Melissa Jacobson

About the Directors

Jeremy Workman

Jeremy Workman is the director of the documentaries LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD (Discovery), THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET (Greenwich Entertainment / Kino Lorber), MAGICAL UNIVERSE (IFC Films), and WHO IS HENRY JAGLOM? (PBS), among others. Jeremy’s documentaries have played at some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals and been released in theaters and on TV across the globe.

His documentary LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD – about acclaimed domino artist Lily Hevesh – won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival. It went on to become a high profile acquisition for Discovery and was released to wide acclaim in theaters and on Discovery+. It is now also available on the new streaming site MAX. Jeremy’s documentary THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET – about Matt Green’s mission to walk every street of New York City – was released in over 75 US cities during 2018/2019.
Executive Produced by Jesse Eisenberg, it currently stands at 100% on RottenTomatoes. Previously, Jeremy’s 2014 documentary MAGICAL UNIVERSE – about outsider artist Al Carbee – was released theatrically by IFC Films. the documentary won several film festival awards, was a Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Pick” and was featured by The New York Times as “recommended watching” when it debuted on Netflix in 2015.

Additionally, Jeremy is well-known for his editing work, particularly for indie movie trailers. A two-time Emmy award nominee, Jeremy is the Creative Director of Wheelhouse Creative, a movie trailer company that caters to indie film. In this capacity, Jeremy has edited over 100 movie trailers.

Jeremy is currently in post-production on his newest documentary The Secret Mall Apartment.

Robert Lyons

ROBERT J LYONS is an Emmy-Award nominated producer, who has produced films for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series and feature documentaries released theatrically by IFC Films, Cohen Media Group and Netflix. Known primarily for his work in movie marketing as the Executive Director of Wheelhouse Creative, he has overseen marketing campaigns for dozens of films and produced
numerous companion pieces and featurettes. A member of the Producer’s Guild, Rob is currently producing an untitled feature documentary about Jule Campbell, the famed mastermind of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, directed by her daughter-in-law Jill Campbell.

Read the Director's Statement

Deciding Vote began when our older friend, Doron Steger, told us an amazing story about New York’s 1970 Abortion Bill. The story was largely forgotten, and it involved a little-known Assemblyman named George Michaels from Auburn, a small city in Upstate New York. Michaels seemingly switched his vote on the bill at the last moment — becoming the “deciding vote” which allowed the bill to pass and legalized abortion in New York in the process. As a result of switching his vote, Michaels career seemed to have been destroyed and the story became largely lost to history. We were inspired by the courage and lasting influence of Michaels’ vote and felt that the story was as relevant now as it was then. Together with Doron as one of our producers, we decided to make it into a short documentary.

The more we learned about George Michaels and the intricate personal and political drama playing out in his life, the more fascinated we became. Here was a man whose own family drama acted as a microcosm to a larger national debate — a debate still happening today at dinner tables across our country. And when we finally got a chance to watch Michaels’ speech on the assembly floor, previously available only on grainy YouTube clips, we understood just how courageous he was.

At times, we hesitated. Being two men, were we the right directors for this story? We decided to proceed with the realization that the film could emphasize the message that reproductive rights are human rights, and we all have a role in that fight. In fact, as men, we found Michaels’ courage even more profound. Here’s a man who understood the value in supporting a group that on the
surface he wasn’t part of. He recognized that he too had a responsibility to support causes that were beyond his own identity. We realized just how important that message is in order to spearhead change in society.

Of course, we also found Michaels’ example of moral courage so refreshingly brave at a time today when both sides of the aisle seem to never want to rock the boat. We hope that the film will be an inspiration to people on all sides of the political spectrum in realizing the importance of taking a stand for what you believe in, regardless of party or affiliation.

We are honored to have been able to tell this story in a film. We were so excited to have the eager participation of the Michaels family, candidly sharing their emotional experience with us. We were able to interview Michaels’ two living sons, Jim and Lee, as well as his daughter-in-law Sarah. They all shared with us the real personal stakes at play within their family. In Sarah, we found a woman who didn’t even realize the colossal role she had in all of this. It was astonishing when she realized during our interview how she played a small role in our nation’s history! We were thrilled to speak with Ruth Messinger, a great veteran of New York’s political landscape, who herself had been inspired for decades by this story. We couldn’t believe that she even taught leadership workshops where she lectured about George Michaels. And lastly, we were so
delighted to meet Rebecca Fitzgerald, an archivist at the Cayuga Museum of History and Art, who is compiling the George Michaels archive. We knew she had to be a character in the film.

We are also pleased that the film showcases Constance Cook, a Republican who co-authored the bill. It was really striking for us to see the civility demonstrated during those NY State Assembly sessions. We hope to see similarly passionate, thoughtful, non-partisan debates in our current
political discourse.

We are honored to present this powerful story at similarly significant moment in our nation’s history. We hope Deciding Vote confirms how one courageous individual can have an impact for all of society. We hope the film inspires those who see it as much as it inspired us in making it.

Questions and Additional Information: