For touring musicians, reducing a production's carbon footprint can be difficult. "We've got a lot of trucks and crap to haul around," says Blake Shelton, who's "not quite sure" what 's done to counteract that, "but I know that I've never dumped a [waste] tank in the river," he assures. He's not on the road at the moment, at least until "The Voice" ends for the season May 8. "Last year, the show came up out of nowhere for all of us," says Shelton, who played tour dates and worked on the singing competition simultaneously. "I'll never do that again," he says, "It's hard to do the show in the right way if you're leaving after every episode to fly off to a city."
This season, Shelton got his wife Miranda Lambert involved as a mentor to his team of contestants. "She loves this freaking show, she is so invested in it. Now, when she can, she comes to the live episodes." While he won't commit to saying his team will win, he has high hopes for his remaining contestants, and expects to continue to help them. He wrote and recorded a song with his first season finalist Dia Frampton and brought her on tour with him for three months, and Gwen Sebastian, a contestant from this season, has been singing backup with him. But Shelton doesn't think he'd have done very well if he'd had the opportunity to try out for "The Voice" when he was a newcomer. "Cee Lo is the kind of person that can get up there and dominate on a show like this. I'm a one trick pony. I'd probably get through the blind auditions and then start sucking soon after that."
Steven Weber recycles, and has a plan to continue doing so after he's gone — with himself. "I'm going to make an effort to mulch my remains, so that a tree can grow from me and my children and grandchildren can sit in its shade." We're not sure if he's serious, but we can confirm that he'll star in the Hallmark Channel movie "Duke," premiering April 28. "It's about a homeless veteran with PTSD, and his dog. It's very serious, a different kind of Hallmark movie. It's darker, a little grittier, not the typically sweet story," says Weber, who was drawn to the role, the script, and the opportunity to do something different from roles he's typically played. He likes toggling between drama and comedy, like the recurring role he's played on "Hot in Cleveland" this season, and would love to star in a sitcom next. "I'm looking for a show that runs for a while," he says.
"I had forgotten about Earth Day because I was on a completely self-serving, orgiastic press tour when I didn't even know what day it was, but I'm all for it, everything and anything. I try to support things and I recycle, all that. But I still own a combustion engine car," said John Cusack at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, where he appeared to promote his new movie "The Raven" at the Los Angeles Times stage.
Cusack plays author Edgar Allan Poe in the movie, opening April 27. "The premise of the movie is somebody starts re-enacting his stories and the police then have to figure out the mind of Poe to catch the serial killer," he said, adding that he jumped at the chance to play someone so intriguing and complex. "Poe is not a mind you want to stay in all year round but it's certainly a nice place to visit. There's a mixture of pioneering and religious fervor in the psychic space he liked to write in and I found that exhilarating. He was an explorer of the underworld, of the unconscious. There was something of an intellectual libertine about him but in a great way. He could be a very disagreeable and stubborn man and like many geniuses wound a little bit too tight. He had a wit and a gallows humor that's undeniable and we tried to put it in the movie."
Cusack, who just received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has several other films awaiting release including "The Paperboy" opposite Nicole Kidman. He said he's "open to anything" where roles are concerned and wouldn't mind doing another romantic comedy, but is wistful for the classic Preston Sturgess rom-coms Hollywood used to make. "They don't really make good romantic comedies anymore," he said.
Actress Diane Farr ("Numbers," "Californication," "Rescue Me") also appeared at the Festival of Books, taking part in a panel called "Love American Style" in which she discussed her book "Kissing Outside the Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After." Married to a Korean-American, Farr originally set out to write an anthology with 20 interviews, her story being just one, but that evolved into a memoir featuring her story prominently and five other mixed couples'. "Every race, religion and culture had a feeling about every other culture, and our generation doesn't really talk about it," she said, adding that she intended the book to be "about how every couple moved forward, a road map." Writing it "Definitely changed me," she said, "because it made me aware of what I was going to teach my kids."
She'd originally started writing during the Screen Actors Guild strike and found it "a place to have a voice. You have no power as an actor, waiting for people to hire you," she said, but fortunately, she is still being hired regularly. She finished the drama "Cherry" a few months ago and has just started shooting "Almost Broadway," playing an actress in a story about trying to get on the New York stage.
She's currently working on a sequel to her book called "Shades of America" that will focus on the adult children of mixed race couples. The mother of a five-year old son and three-year-old twin girls, Farr finds juggling family and career "a balancing project, but we're figuring it out." Her children "are really interested in recycling," she said. "It's a big deal at pre-school: composting, gardening and recycling."
Tune in: The five-part series "Whale Wars: Viking Shores," following the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's efforts to end the summer whale hunt in the Faroe Islands, premieres on Animal Planet on April 27. On PBS, Nova's" "Secrets of the Sun," premiering April 25, focuses on our nearest star, and on April 26, "Facing the Storm: The Story of the American Bison" examines how the dwindling populations of this iconic symbol of the Old West have become a divisive issue between ranchers who cultivate bison for meat on one side and conservationists, Native Americans and park rangers who'd like to protect them.
Nat Geo Wild takes viewers on a three-hour trip to the sub-continent on April 29 with "Secrets of Wild India," presenting a trio of programs about the country's diverse landscape and the and species that populate it, including elephants, rhinos, wild buffalo, tigers, wild dogs, camels and lions. David Attenborough narrates.
Photo courtesy Hallmark Channel