Like many film and TV productions these days, especially those shot in eco-aware Canada, the NBC TV movie "The Jensen Project" followed green practices on set in Montreal, with an abundance of recycling bins and a reuse/recycle policy for scripts and other paper. Stars Kellie Martin and LeVar Burton are similarly green-minded, with a mutual interest in gardening.
“My wife is a tremendous cook, so we spend a lot of time growing herbs and tomatoes,” says Burton. “Our old garden wall had begun to disintegrate so we’re restructuring and redoing the irrigation. It’s on three levels. If there’s time, we’ll do some planting this year.”
Martin just put in a big garden plot to grow cucumbers, tomatoes, kale and other produce. “We’ve started composting and we’re really trying to grow as many of our own fruits and vegetables as we possibly can. I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old, and I want to teach her where our food comes from. I cook a lot more, and we eat out a lot less.”
Martin has also “recycled forever” and is conscientious about setting an example for her daughter. “As she grows up, with all the things that are happening in our environment, it probably will get worse before it gets better, so it’s definitely important to our family,” she explains.
Having gotten her break as a teen on "Life Goes On", Yale grad Martin more recently starred in ER and the Hallmark Channel "Mystery Woman" movies, but took an acting hiatus after giving birth to Margaret in 2006. As her first film since, "The Jensen Project" was an opportunity to do a sci-fi adventure and work with green screen effects, play a mom (to a tech-savvy teenager), and reunite with Burton, with whom she worked in the series "Christy" in the mid-1990s. Burton (pictured right) plays a scientist and security expert at the Jensen Project, a scientific think tank where geniuses have come up with a world-altering technology that’s in danger of falling into the wrong hands. Martin’s Claire Thompson, a nanobiologist who left the project years before following a failed experiment, returns with her family to help.
Both Martin, who guest-starred in the July 11 episode of "Drop Dead Diva" and recently recorded an audiobook version of "Christy", and Burton, whose credits include "Roots", "Reading Rainbow", and "Star Trek: The Next Generation", hope that the July 16 movie, a “backdoor pilot,” becomes a series. If it does, it would involve “another nefarious entity trying to co-op the Jensen Project’s work and turn it to their own evil devices” each week, Burton says. “There’s plenty of opportunity for cloak and dagger and high tech espionage.”
For Martin, the brainiac aspect is another reason to tune in. “It’s kind of fun to have a show about how nerds are pretty awesome. It’s cool to be bright, and I love that.”
Tune in: On July 18, the Documentary Channel premieres "The Water Front", a documentary about the fight over water privatization in financially strapped Highland Park, Mich. “My objective in making this film was to encourage people to think about where the water we drink comes from, as well as touch on the very essence of our democratic system,” says director Liz Miller. “It presents a community in crisis, but also presents the powerful enactment of local participation in finding solutions to the problems of our times.” Two similarly themed films will precede "The Water Front"; the channel will also show "The Water Project: Columbia" and "The Water Project: South Africa".
LeVar Burton photo by Philippe Bosse/NBC.