"It's just in the consciousness of people who work on the show. Everyone is aware of it," says executive producer Lorne Michaels about keeping the set of "Up All Night" eco-friendly. The "Saturday Night Live" creator is behind the new NBC sitcom about a working mom (Christina Applegate) and stay-at-home dad (Will Arnett) adjusting to sleep-deprived parenthood. Both can relate.
"I'm still a mom who's up all night with her kid, so it definitely parallels a great deal," says Applegate. "I gave birth to my daughter at 39 years old, so I had many years of being completely self‑obsessed and self‑absorbed and doing what I wanted to do. A baby comes and does change that. These characters are later‑in‑life parents who have been doing it their way for a really long time, and now it's someone else's way." The father of two small boys, Arnett "wasn't really thinking about doing anything this year and then I read this script. I immediately thought, 'yeah, this is something I relate to.' So whatever decisions I had made were immediately thrown out the window."
Joining her old "SNL" boss Michaels in the role of boss and best friend to Applegate's character is Maya Rudolph, who just had her third child in July. "The irony is that I'm the one without the kid in the show," she says. "Up All Night" premieres on NBC Sept. 14.
"Every set is very conscious these days. There's recycling. There are still plastic bottles, but we do throw them in the recycling bin," says Hank Azaria, who stars in the NBC comedy "Free Agents," premiering Sept. 14. Based on a British series, the workplace sitcom asks, "What if you hook up with the seemingly right person at the exact wrong time and the wrong place? Then what do you do?" explains Azaria, who plays a newly divorced guy who sleeps with a co-worker (Kathryn Hahn), and then they have to figure out where they stand while keeping their affair secret.
There are work dilemmas, too — the firm is a public relations company, and the two deal with damage control and reputation rescue. "You help good people and good companies but sometimes you help slimy people get away with things," notes Azaria, who admits to having had a real-life workplace romance. "Nobody found out about it. We were very careful," he says.
Azaria continues to voice several characters on "The Simpsons," including Apu, Moe and Chief Wiggum, as he's done for the past 23 years. "It's a very fun job. The first few years we spent a lot of time recording and getting it right and now it's very much second nature. You just go in and play. I'll never get tired of it," he says. He'll also be heard as The Mighty Sven, a puffin, in "Happy Feet Two," in theaters Nov. 18.
The on-set caterers at "NCIS" provide eco-friendly serving ware, reports Pauley Perrette. "We have takeaway containers made from recycled bottles," she says. The top-rated procedural's ninth season premieres on Sept. 20, and Perrette is thrilled that viewers will get to learn more about Abby's history and family this season. "They asked me to go through my high school pictures and find some from prom or homecoming so they could have a funny picture of Abby," and having to do so unleashed "harrowing" memories. "High school was never fun for me," she admits. While her relatives haven't been cast yet, Lily Tomlin will have a recurring role as a relative of Timothy McGee (Sean Murray).
Actor and activist Ian Somerhalder, founder of the environmental group the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, is speaking out against the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport toxic tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through the U.S. to the Texas Gulf for refining, and harm the environment in the process. "The proposed Keystone XL pipeline puts fish and wildlife at risk, threatens the health and livelihood of countless American farmers, and perpetuates the United States' unhealthy dependence on oil," says Somerhalder, star of "The Vampire Diaries," which has its third season premiere on the CW Sept. 15. "On behalf of myself, the IS Foundation, and the 22,000 people who have already signed our Stop the Tar Sands Oil Keystone XL Pipeline Petition, we strongly urge the Obama Administration to follow through on its promise to 'end the age of oil in our time.'"
Tune in: On Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. EDT, Current TV will broadcast a climate crisis talk by Al Gore in the last hour of the global event "24 Hours of Reality." "Extreme droughts, terrible storms, and larger floods are devastating many parts of the world," said former Vice President Gore. "Today, climate change is no longer a prediction: It's a reality. Yet around the world, we are still subjected to polluter-financed misinformation and propaganda designed to mislead people about the dangers we face from the unfolding climate crisis. Those who want to protect their own short-term financial interest are employing the same strategy first used by tobacco companies years ago to mislead the public about the science linking cigarettes to disease and death. The time to face reality is now. '24 Hours of Reality' will bridge oceans and cultures — in every time zone — to bring the world together to emphasize the truth about the climate crisis and how we can solve it." Current.com will feature the entire live broadcast online.
Photos: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC (Hank Azaria), Adam Rose/CBS (Pauley Perrette), Frank Ockenfels/The CW (Ian Somerhalder)