The Fox drama 24 returns for Jack Bauer’s eighth really bad day on Jan. 17 with its tense real-time formula intact, and its carbon-neutral initiative firmly in place. “When we started around season four, the goal was to be able to make 24 and not leave a carbon footprint,” says star Kiefer Sutherland. “I don’t know if that’s possible because we have to drive to work, but all of the trucks we’re using are hybrids. We’re not using gas fuels and there are a lot of things being done within the office and the production building as well. We’ve made a marked improvement from where we were in season one.”
As the clock begins ticking, Bauer is preparing to retire to L.A. with his daughter and her family, but a terrorist assassination plot thwarts his plans, keeping him in New York, the new headquarter for CTU, which — Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) excepted — is staffed by new characters to clash with Jack. One is a computer analyst played by Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), engaged to an agent (Freddie Prinze Jr.) but hiding a secret past that a blackmailing ex threatens to expose. “She’s got some baggage, but let’s just say she’s very good at cleaning up problems,” says Sackhoff, her lips zipped on the details.
Raised in Oregon by a green-living mother, “I’ve been recycling every single thing since I was 4,” Sackhoff announces. Also new this season is Chris Diamantopoulos as Rob Weiss, President Taylor’s chief of staff. “He’s not afraid to speak his mind,” he says. “I love that he’s a little bit of a bull.”
Although the show is set in the Big Apple, it still shoots in Los Angeles so Diamantopoulos and his wife Becki Newton (Amanda in the New York-based Ugly Betty) continue their commuter marriage. He took a fuel-burning 51 flights last year, but tries to make up for it by conserving at home. “Not using bottled water and drinking filtered water is a big thing for us. We switched every single bulb to fluorescents,” he notes, “and we recycle both in New York and L.A.”
Playing a death-tempting bodyguard in the new Fox drama Human Target, premiering Jan. 17, Mark Valley is a conscientious recycler. “We have a bin in our apartment,” says Valley, who has relocated for the series to Vancouver, as has his wife and former co-star, Fringe lead Anna Torv. The series gives the West Point grad and Gulf War vet the opportunity for lots of physical action as “adrenaline junkie” Christopher Chance. “He really enjoys the thrill,” but has secrets yet to be revealed, such as “Why would anybody go to such lengths to protect someone? Who would take that job and why would you be good at it?”
His partner in the protection biz is Winston, played by Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies, The Nine), who also enjoys the action aspect, even if his character doesn’t. “He doesn’t like chasing people, but it becomes necessary at times, and that’s what I like to do. I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk. They can get anybody to do that,” says McBride (pictured right), who also enjoys the role’s levity. “Just being very droll, dead-pan, dry and sardonic is right up my alley.”
While his wife, back in L.A. with their 2-year-old son, (he has Yorkie Pablo for company), is the family’s main recycler, McBride assures they’re on the same page about other eco-practices. “We’re not wasteful,” he says. “We’re very careful of what kind of toys we buy for our child and we just teach him to be respectful of animals and nature.”
“I’m very conscious of my carbon footprint. I unplug everything, I conserve water, and use as many green products as I can,” says Patti Stanger, a.k.a. the Millionaire Matchmaker, whose high-end fix-up series returns to Bravo for its third season Jan. 19. Switching to toxin-free detergents made a big difference, she notes. “Sometimes the chemicals would make my body itch, and I was really uncomfortable with that.”
The straight-talking Stanger (pictured left), whose 10-year-old Millionaire’s Club dating service claims a 99 percent success rate, finds matches for rich male and female, gay and straight singles on the show this season, several of whom own green businesses. One couple’s date, she reveals, involves a visit to a toxic waste dump. “There are a lot of matches this season, more than we’ve ever had on our show,” says Stanger, who’ll give viewers a glimpse of her own wedding preparations. “I’d prefer to elope but he’s the one who wants the big wedding,” she says of her fiancé Andy Friedman, whom she met six years ago — a colleague matched them up. The wedding itself probably won’t be televised. “Bravo would like it, but I’m not sure about that,” she confides. “I’m kind of private in that way.”
Actress Shiri Appleby (pictured right) doesn’t have a hybrid car yet. “I’m a convertible girl and they have not yet made one,” she notes, but she lives pretty green otherwise. “I’m a huge recycler. I bring bags to the grocery store, and when I’m in New York, I take the subway and walk everywhere. I’m really into it.” Best known for the WB series Roswell, Appleby stars in the new CW series Life Unexpected as a talk radio personality who became pregnant in high school and gave the baby up for adoption. Now 16 and tired of foster care, the girl seeks out the mom, who’s newly engaged to her co-host (Kerr Smith) and the dad, an immature bachelor bar owner (Kristoffer Polaha) who didn’t know she existed. All three get a crash course in parenting and all the issues it entails.
Polaha (North Shore, Mad Men), actually the father of two young boys, finds that being a real life dad helps in playing the role. “There’s a tenderness there that you lack when you don’t have kids,” he observes. Also bringing bartending experience (in a Reno martini bar) to the part, Polaha cops to driving a big Escalade and Silverado, but does recycle religiously. “We love Mother Earth and want to preserve it,” he says.
Life Unexpected premieres Jan. 18 at 9 p.m.
Additional photo credits: Chi Mcbride by Kharen Hill/FOX; Patti Stanger by Peter Tangen/FOX; Shiri Appleby by Richard Phibbs/CW.