Celebs braved the chill at Heal the Bay’s 18th annual Bring Back the Beach fundraiser celebrating the organization’s efforts to make Southern California waters clean, safe and healthy for humans and sea creatures. “Overall, the ocean has gotten a lot cleaner. You can really see the changes,” said Amy Smart, who’s been an HTB supporter for more than 15 years and has served on its board for ten. “There’s a storm drain system now, a great aquarium, and legislature is passing really strong bills,” pointed out the native Californian, who became environmentally aware as a teenager growing up near the water in Topanga Canyon. “One of the first volunteer jobs I did was going on a beach cleanup, picking up all the Styrofoam pieces and cigarette butts in the sand and realizing how precious this natural resource we have is and how much it needs to be taken care of.” At home, hybrid-driving Smart composts, has a water filtration system so she can refill her stainless steel bottles, and uses eco-friendly cleaning products. “I really try to stay away from plastic water bottles,” adds the actress, who’s looking for something that “has a lot of impact, a strong message” for her next project.
As a scuba diver, Sharon Lawrence (pictured right) learned long ago about the deterioration of the coral reefs and praised Heal the Bay’s accomplishments. “They’ve helped bring attention to the fact that plastic bottles end up in the water,” she said on the blue carpet, noting that she avoids those bottles and refills her own reusable ones. Lawrence, who’ll guest this fall on the new season of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, keeps busy outside of acting as the chair of Women in Film, which has its annual gala June 12, and as an investor in the green restaurant Akasha, which catered the Bring Back the Beach bash.
Finola Hughes (General Hospital) also lauded Heal the Bay’s successes. “There’s been so much improvement over the last ten years. They’ve done so much in Santa Monica that you can now go swimming here,” said the Santa Barbara resident, who’s married to a surfer and lives on a farm “very close to nature and the beach. We have solar, 52 fruit trees and use no pesticides.” A near-vegetarian (she eats raw fish occasionally), Hughes is raising eco-aware children. “They learn it in school and we teach it. They plant their own vegetables we take them to the green market and they pick what they want to cook.” She’s currently developing two television shows as a producer and will appear in one of them.
‘Save the Whales,’ has long been an environmental rallying cry, but to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, it’s a life mission. “We’re not sitting on the sidelines of the environmental movement,” says the organization’s associate development director Alex Earl, and as documented in the Animal Planet series Whale Wars, the second season of which premieres June 5 at 9 PM, it’s a confrontational, dangerous endeavor.
In the first episode, the Shepherd helicopter crew captures Japanese whalers harpooning a Minke whale and its slow death while enduring audio assault by LRAD -- mega-loudspeakers that can disorient a pilot, which is illegal. The Sea Shepherd vessel, too slow to catch the harpoon boats, was nine miles away but copter pilot Chris Aultman stayed with the bloody scene the entire time. “People don’t know that commercial whaling still exists,” he says, glad that Whale Wars has been able to educate the public about it.
“The series is peripheral to our conservation mission, defending marine wildlife worldwide. We do that whether it’s on Animal Planet or not,” Earl points out, noting Sea Shepherd’s efforts to stop shark finning and seal hunting. “But we’re able to get our message out and maintain our momentum in terms of funding.” Larry King will help get that message out when he interviews the Sea Shepherd crew on June 4.
Huffington Post doyenne Arianna Huffington lent her home to Animal Planet for the Whale Wars season launch party. “I love whales and it’s such a good cause,” she told us at the event. Her friend Morgan Fairchild (both pictured left) is similarly eco-minded, and in fact, was testifying in Washington about global warming with Al Gore back in 1987, “before it became hip. So many of the things that were forecast back then have come true now -- the weather changes, rainfall patterns,” Fairchild reflects. As glaciers melt, rivers and aquifers dry up and land turns into desert, “the next big wars will be fought over fresh water,” she believes. While she wishes eco-awareness and education and developing new energy technologies hadn’t taken 20 years to catch on, “It’s heartening to see people caring and trying to make a difference,” she says. “Better late than never.”
“I’ve always been very careful about using heat and air conditioning, not wasting water or electricity, turning off lights, recycling. I don’t go to great extremes but I try to do what I can do,” comedian Fred Willard told MNN on the red carpet.
Asher Roth, who performed his hit hip-hop anthem “I Love College,” revealed he grew up with a mom who was into natural and organic living and that makes an effort to be eco-conscious. “I recycle. I try my best to walk everywhere, but it’s tough in L.A.,” he noted. “I used to take my own bag to the grocery store when I lived in Atlanta, but I haven’t been shopping in 18 months, since I’ve been on the road. Every little bit helps.”
Director-producer Judd Apatow, also a recycler, told us he has “a water bottle-less office. And I’m not printing as much as I used to.” He has two movies due this summer, Year One in June and Funny People in July. Guys’ Choice premieres June 21at 10 PM on Spike.
Stay tuned for next week’s Ecollywood column. In the meantime, check out our Ecollywood videos.