Editor's note: This week's Ecollywood column was so long, we split it in two. Read the other half, about Julia Louis-Dreyfus and seven other celebs who are going green.
Having recently watched the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, Christian Slater of the new ABC drama The Forgotten has been checking into getting a plug-in of his own. “I’m looking into those Tesla electric cars. They’re really cool, and they're coming out with a 4-door version,” says Slater, cast in Forgotten as a cop with a long-missing daughter who heads a team of civilians trying to identify John and Jane Does and bring closure to their loved ones. “He can't fill the void in himself, so he tries to do that with other families,” says Slater, who “couldn’t help but get emotionally involved” when he read the script. “I started to think about my kids, my family and how precious they are to me,” he explains. He’ll also star in Dolan’s Cadillac in December and guest on Curb Your Enthusiasm this season.
When it comes to green living, Desperate Housewives’ ghostly narrator Brenda Strong (pictured right) was an early adopter. “I was born and raised in Oregon and we never understood why anyone didn’t recycle. You brush your teeth and you recycle -- it’s part of your daily habit,” says Strong, whose home is filled with sustainable materials and lit by CFLs. Her husband drives an electric Tesla, and she has ordered one, too.
On Housewives, which returns to ABC for its sixth season Sept. 27, a mysterious new couple played by Jeffrey Nordling and Drea De Matteo joins the neighborhood. “They’ve moved into my old house, and might find some secret hidden in my closet,” she hints.
Another new DH regular is Maiara Walsh, who plays Carlos Soliz’s troublemaking niece. “It’s fun playing the manipulative mean girl, though it’s not who I am at all,” emphasizes Walsh, previously best known for the Disney Channel comedy Cory in the House. Also a compact florescent light bulb fan and avid recycler, she drives a Prius and says she’s been eco-aware since she was 16. “Before that, all I cared about was boys and clothes and school and stuff,” she admits. “Now I’m much more conscious of what I do and my impact on the environment.”
Los Angeles may be a car culture, but Julie Benz of Dexter loves living in a pedestrian-friendly part of town. “I live in West Hollywood and I walk everywhere. I’ve simplified my life,” she says, pointing out the environmental and exercise benefits, adding, “Other than to work and back, I don’t drive much anymore.”
Season four of Dexter, premiering on Showtime Sept. 27, finds Benz’s Rita married to Dexter with a new baby, unaware of her husband’s secret life as a serial killer. “I don’t think she’d ever believe it, or be equipped to wrap her head around it if she found out,” says the actress, who’ll also be seen in Boondock Saints 2 in November and will star opposite Scott Elrod in the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie Uncorked.
“It’s probably the greenest house we ever built,” says Eduardo Xol (pictured left) about the Wisconsin farmhouse the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew worked on in the two-hour season seven premiere, airing Sept. 27. “We composted 80-90 percent of the organic waste we produced on the shoot,” says the landscape designer, a green building advocate and dedicated recycler who is currently developing a new TV project with an eco-friendly theme. “It’s important and responsible for us to take care of the planet,” Xol told MNN at the ALMA Awards at UCLA.
“I've changed my light bulbs. I recycle. My oldest brother's a conservationist, so he's trying to get me to do full solar on my roof. I'm looking into it,” says Eliza Dushku, whose character Echo marries in the season opener of Dollhouse Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. on Fox. Battlestar Galactica’s Jamie Bamber plays her husband, and Keith Carradine and Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will also guest this season.
With a two-and-a-half year-old son and year-old twin daughters at home, Diane Farr (pictured right) is an eco-conscious mom. “I use Seventh Generation diapers and wipes, all organic food, Earth’s Best formula, California Baby products for bathing and shampooing. I’m as worried about the Earth as I am about them,” says the former Numb3rs regular, who has joined the cast of Showtime’s Californication this season. She plays a teaching assistant at the university where Hank (David Duchovny) now works and one of his three new love interests. Eager to get back to work after a year off, she found the perfect job in the half-hour cable comedy, which premieres Sept. 27. “You have more time to do the things you want to do and you’re not exhausted,” explains Farr, who often brings her kids to work. The show’s adult themes notwithstanding, the set is “very kid-friendly,” she says. “All the women have their kids there.”
“Mom makes me recycle. And I’m careful with my water. I turn it off when I brush my teeth,” says Kherington Payne of Fame, the latest incarnation of the musical movie and series set in a performing arts high school in New York. Discovered for the role while dancing as a contestant in So You Think You Can Dance, she plays a “poor little rich girl from Park Avenue who falls in love with a guy from the wrong side of the tracks.” The movie hits theaters Sept. 25.
Elsewhere on the TV dial … Debuting Sept. 25 on National Geographic, the new series Rescue Ink Unleashed features a team of tattooed bikers who rescue abused and neglected animals, rehabilitate them, and place them with loving homes or sanctuaries. Their in-your-face intimidation approach works: they’ve saved thousands of animals.
Filmmaker Ken Burns turns his lens on the history and natural majesty of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a six-part series airing on PBS Sept. 27-Oct. 2. Actor-director Mario Van Peebles gets his whole family involved in an eco-friendly remodel in Mario’s Green House, premiering Sept. 27 on TV One. The effects of ocean acidification are explored in the documentary A Sea Change, premiering on Planet Green Sept. 26 at 5 p.m..