Celebs teamed up to play ping pong for charity at the Ultimate Slam Paddle Jam to raise awareness for their favorite nonprofits including Oceana, Habitat for Humanity, The Humane Society, Youth Mentoring Connection, Rock the Vote and the Ann & George Lopez Foundation.
Actor Greg Grunberg, partnered with George Lopez (who wasn’t talking to the media, perhaps because of his just-revealed marital split), arrived in his gas-guzzling sports car but told us he was looking for an eco-friendlier vehicle, “to balance that. I’m looking at the Nissan Leaf, And the Honda CR2 hybrid — it’s sporty and a stick shift, and gets 40 miles a gallon.” The shopping coupon app he invented, Yowza! “is the greenest thing I do — no paper,” he reminded.
Quinton Aaron ("The Blind Side"), an avid recycler, told us he’d like a hybrid, but can’t fit in the small versions “and can’t afford the big ones they have.” Playing for the Humane Society, he admitted that “bowling is more my game.” Considering his next career move now, he’d like to do “a little bit of everything, a little action. I want to be the first black James Bond,” said Aaron. “I want to make smart decisions. If you make the wrong move, it will stick with you for a long time.”
Jesse Williams (pictured right) is eco-conscious at home and on the "Grey’s Anatomy" set, where “our plates, forks and knives are made of corn and are recyclable and biodegradable, and we recycle paper and plastic. I always bring my own bags everywhere when I shop, I recycle, and I use green soap and laundry detergent,” he told us. A competitive athlete and a former teacher, he took the “opportunity to give back to kids” by teaming up with Aimee Garcia to represent Youth Mentoring Connection. Now a series regular on "Grey’s", he originally had signed on for only three episodes. “They kept writing me in the next one,” noted Williams, whose character Jackson will “make some strides with difficult relationships he has with his co-workers at the hospital, finding new friends and down the road some romance for him.” He’ll be seen opposite Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford in the upcoming 3-D horror film "The Cabin in the Woods" in 2011.
“I petitioned my building to have recycling bins and now we have them. I feel very proud — I made a difference,” said Williams’ Paddle Jam partner Aimee Garcia, adding that she conserves toilet paper and refills a water bottle she brings with her. She was able to participate because her trip to Hawaii for a recurring role in the ABC midseason drama "Off the Map" was postponed due to weather. “It’s basically 'Grey’s Anatomy' in the jungle, Doctors without Borders. I play a local cantina waitress who gets romantic with Zach Gilford ('Friday Night Lights').” Garcia also stars in the forthcoming romantic comedy "Convincing Clooney" and dance flick "Go for It!"
Harold Perrineau (pictured left) played on behalf of Oceana. Having worked near the water in Hawaii for his role on "Lost" and recently in New Orleans, he was encouraged by the way the Gulf residents have rallied and wanted to help on that score. At home, “we recycle, we ride our bikes whenever we can. Shut off the electricity — I talk to my daughters about it and they learn at school too.” With several movies in the can including "Transit" with James Caviezel and Elisabeth Rohm, "The Hungry Rabbit Jumps" with Nic Cage and January Jones and "Case 219" with Melora Walters, Perrineau wouldn’t mind returning to TV “if I find something good,” he said. “It would give me the chance to be home a little bit more.”
Hal Sparks, Quinton Aaron’s partner, had no time to practice — he’d just flown in from a standup gig in Seattle to play on behalf of the Humane Society. He has no pets of his own but a cousin who lives with him has a rehabilitated rescue dog. In the midst of a comedy tour that will take him to New England, South Carolina and Washington, D.C., in the coming weeks and London in November, Sparks ordered the Nissan Leaf and will get it in December. “I’ve driven it twice and the ride is so smooth and quiet. Taking all that noise away makes the sound, comfort and road ride even more important,” he noted. Meanwhile, he’s on two wheels. “I made a commitment not to buy another gas car so I rode my motorcycle here tonight,” he said.
When Tony Danza (pictured right) says he doesn’t let the water run when he brushes his teeth “and I tell the kids that too,” he isn’t referring to his own offspring. Danza is talking about the 10th graders he spent a year teaching English at Philadelphia’s Northeast High School, the subject of the A&E documentary series "Teach: Tony Danza", premiering Oct. 1. Why would the star of sitcoms ("Taxi", "Who’s the Boss?") and Broadway ("The Producers") and former talk show host give up a year to work for teacher’s wages? “I’m almost 60 years old. I’ve had a great life. My kids are grown. I feel like I should be doing something, trying to give something back,” he explains, hoping that he’ll inspire others to think about teaching as a second career. “I wanted to be good at it,” says Danza, who’d spend hours preparing to teach "Julius Caesar" and "To Kill a Mockingbird". “I didn’t play to the cameras at all. The classroom was a classroom,” he stresses. “I didn’t miss a day. There were days I’d have a bad class and couldn’t get it out of my mind, but I’d get up in the morning and go back in there.” He’s writing a book about his experience that he hopes to finish by year’s end.
“I’m appalled, quite frankly, how much people depend on their cars in L.A.” declares British actress Indira Varma (pictured left), who takes public transportation or bicycles around London, where she lives. “I have a garden and grow tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans. I turn the water off when I brush my teeth. I only use eco-light bulbs,” says the actress, who’s been in Vancouver of late, shooting Fox’s "Human Target". Best known for HBO’s "Rome", Varma joins the cast this season as billionaire widow Ilsa Pucci, who hires Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) to investigate her husband’s death in the Nov. 17 premiere, and ends up buying the agency. “She’s very determined and definitely a control freak, so she will probably get on people’s nerves,” says Varma. She’ll also appear as Idris Elba’s estranged wife in the British drama "Luther", premiering on BBC America Oct. 17. “I love variety,” she notes. “By the time I die I would like to do every single genre including action. It would be really fun to get to shoot guns, jump out of a helicopter.”
“I have solar panels, I have hot water heating panels. I am a firm believer in if it’s yellow let it mellow,” Skeet Ulrich (pictured right) outlines his eco-friendly practices. Last seen in as a serial killer in "CSI: New York", Ulrich ("Jericho") switches sides of the law to play a second-generation LAPD cop in "Law & Order: Los Angeles", the left coast edition of the NBC franchise, premiering Sept. 29. “He’s sort of a brass tacks kind of guy, he’s to the point,” Ulrich says of the character, his first police role. The father of 9-year-old twins, he gained insights after a friend on the force arranged an undercover visit to a crime scene for him. “My buddy has three kids and that’s a prime motivation for him, trying to clean up things for the next generation,” says Ulrich.
Odette Yustman (pictured left) learned about being green from the Lazy Environmentalist, she tells us, noting that there’s “a lot of recycling, and we use the [CFL] bulbs” at home she shares with fiancé Dave Annable ("Brothers & Sisters"). Now playing a former high school mean girl in "You Again", she says she was on the other side of that situation as a teen. “I had a bully. She was horrible. I still think about her to this day. I had a good time in high school except for that,” she confides, but used the bad memories to her advantage in the movie. Like her character, she’s a bride-to-be, planning to marry Annable this fall, and will also be seen in "Operation: Endgame", a dark comedy; the thriller "Soon the Darkness"; and the spy drama "The Double" with Richard Gere and Topher Grace. She’s in the voice cast of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2", and “may be open to the idea of doing a few episodes of 'Brothers & Sisters'.”