TV networks don’t just weave in green themes into their shows once a year for eco-creds — they do it to win EMAs! The 20th Annual Environmental Media Awards recognized films and TV programs for bringing attention to environmental concerns at a star-studded event on Saturday at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. Everyone from Rosario Dawson (below) to Natalie Portman to Eva Mendez to Ted Turner came out to walk the green carpet and honor green leaders in media.
Hosted by Olivia Munn ("Attack of the Show") and Jason Ritter ("The Event"), this year’s EMAs showed just how much better eco-themed programming has gotten, even compared to just two years ago, when I last attended the event. The Television Episodic Drama category alone addressed everything from global warming to factory farming to e-waste pollution! "Bones" took home the prize, with Michaela Conlin accepting the award for “The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken,” an episode that brought attention to caged chickens.
I discovered there’s a surefire way of winning an EMA: Get Al Gore to do a cameo! Just like in 2008, "30 Rock" took the Television Episodic Comedy award home for its Gore-inspired episode. Katrina Bowden (above) accepted the award, joking that she’d biked all the way from New York for the event.
“Rachelle, you wanna go first or second?” asked Ed Begley, Jr. (below) said when he got on stage to accept the Best Reality Television Award for "Living with Ed" — and got a “First! First!” from his wife as she grabbed the mic from him. Rachelle credited the show for keeping the two of them together!
The most confusing part of the night for me came when Jeff Skoll, founder of Participant Media ("An Inconvenient Truth," "Food, Inc.") , accepted the EMA Corporate Responsibility Award. He kicked off his acceptance speech with a story:
One evening a snake slithered across my path and I reacted by taking a shovel and hacking it to death. And my uncle said, 'You know what, Jeff? That snake wasn’t going to hurt you and it has the right to live, just like any other creature.' My uncle was later eaten by a grizzly bear. I’m told that the bear is alive and well. We miss you, Uncle Ernie.
And the funniest moment of the night came courtesy of Jane Fonda, who introduced Ted Turner, recipient of the EMA Lifetime Achievement Award. Talking about Ted’s financial donations to help end female genital mutilation, Jane said “He puts his money where his mouth is” — and got roaring laughter from the crowd.
Compared to 2008, the sponsor presence was much lighter during the show, with just one major sponsor — Toyota — given on-stage time. Of course, Toyota’s green cars often came up when the celebs talked about their own greening efforts, both on the carpet and on stage. “I’d just like to point out that I drive a 5-year-old Toyota Highlander Hybrid,” said James Cameron when he accepted the award for "Avatar" in the Feature Film Category. “It’s the only hybrid I could find that seats seven. I have five kids so — not much choice five years ago. And my wife drives a Lexus hybrid. I hope that was not the basis on which we were selected for this award.”
Other winners were "Gasland" for Documentary Film (above, director Josh Fox), Handy Manny for Children’s Animated Television, and "Lights, Camera, Take Action!" for Children’s Live Action Television.
After all the winners were announced, Kenny Loggins took the stage and entertained. Then partygoers got up to wander around the studio lot, tasting delicious, sustainable bites from Akasha, Jar, Grace, Real Food Daily, Mani’s on Maple, Border Grill, and other local green restaurants while sipping organic drinks — and picking up eco-shwag like organic potting soil from Kellogg Garden Products, which supports EMA's Organic School Garden program for Los Angeles Unified School District students.
Wish you’d been there? Watch the whole show online at The National Geographic Channel on YouTube, starting Oct. 23.