Ecollywood: Our weekly celebrity column
Meredith Vieira's garden, how the CW is going green, and much more.
Wed, Sep 08, 2010 at 01:36 PM
GREEN THUMB: Meredith Vieira tells MNN about her garden. (Photo: Andrew Eccles/NBC)
Editor's note: This week's Ecollywood column was so long, we split it in two. Read the other half, about the cast of 'Parenthood', Jesse Metcalfe, and much more.
“We’ve started our own garden at our home. The first year was a disaster. Now it’s much better,” says Meredith Vieira. “We do a lot of lettuces, cucumber, tomatoes, beans, squash. Our first salad was great. And we try to be responsible in terms of recycling as much as possible.” The "Today" co-anchor returns Sept. 13 as host of the ninth season of the syndicated game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", which has new rules including a first round of 10 random value questions and two jump-ahead lifelines that allow a player to skip ahead but lose that dollar value.
Vieira — who doesn’t get the answers in advance, just the questions so she can practice pronunciation — often knows the literature and history answers but believes she’d “go out early” if she were contestant. “I think of myself as being really good with pop culture but when I’m up there, not so good. I’d miss the Jonas Brothers or whatever.”
While balancing two shows and her family is “a juggling act,” it helps that two of her three kids are in college and one is a “very self-sufficient” high school junior. Besides, "Millionaire" only tapes from August through December. After that, “life seems really easy,” she notes. “It’s a breeze to only do one gig.”
Keeping in line with the CW’s green initiative, "Gossip Girl", which has its season premiere on Sept. 13, is “a very, very green production,” reports executive producer Joshua Safran. “We’re very big on recycling, not printing out scripts. Everyone has a reusable water bottle with their name on it. And story-wise we talk about it all the time. Because we’re a show that targets the younger demographic, it is something that we definitely discuss. It’s something that all of the writers are very passionate about.”
Similarly, the CW’s new series "Hellcats" is saving water on set in Vancouver. “We banned plastic water bottles. We’ve all got our own awesome logo metal water bottles. All the crew has gotten in the habit of getting water from jugs,” says executive producer Kevin Murphy, adding that they’re using Toyota hybrids as production vehicles.
The series, premiering Sept. 8, is about competitive college cheerleaders. Aly Michalka plays a pre-law student who loses her scholarship and reluctantly joins the squad to stay in school. “I guess I have it in my blood,” jokes the daughter of a mom who cheer-led for UCLA, the Rams and the Raiders, though she never had the yen to do so herself, “probably because there’s no home-schooling cheerleading squads.” Playing her roommate is Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay in "High School Musical"), now back to her natural brown tresses as naïve southern belle Savannah. “We have stunt doubles for the flips and stuff, but we want to go out there and actually do it ourselves,” says Tisdale (pictured right), admitting that the high-flying routines can be scary. “I think you have to be a little bit crazy to be a cheerleader. And I think I have a little crazy in me.”
He spent the summer shooting the new FX series "Terriers" in San Diego, but Donal Logue otherwise splits his time between Los Angeles and Oregon, where he lives as sustainably as possible. “On my Oregon property, I’ve got solar, my own water supply, and my house down here [L.A.] is heavily solar. What I want to do in the future is live in a totally sustainable environment. And I’m hoping to get a hydrogen car.”
Logue ("Life", "Charlie St. Cloud") plays a divorced ex-alcoholic cop-turned-private eye in "Terriers", an offbeat drama premiering Sept. 8. “It’s the best character that I’ve ever gotten to play and part of it is because it felt like it was the closest. I didn’t have to travel that far from me to him,” says Logue, who has several forthcoming film projects including "Oliver Sherman", an “incredibly dark” thriller with Garrett Dillahunt and Molly Parker.
An animal lover who has three dogs, Maggie Q (pictured left) doesn’t eat meat. “There is no greener decision on the planet,” declares the action film star, who stars in the CW’s "Nikita", premiering Sept. 9. “You can drive a hybrid, you can turn off your lights, you can take shorter showers. If you’re eating hamburgers you don’t care about the planet.”
In "Nikita", the second TV version of the 1990 film "La Femme Nikita", Q (née Quigley) plays the title character, out for revenge against the organization that turned her into a killing machine — and killed her fiancée. This veteran of Hong Kong martial arts flicks, a swimmer and runner as a girl still finds action sequences challenging. “I’m lucky that I've been doing it for long enough that I have a formula that works for me. But it certainly isn't something that I can close my eyes and do. Absolutely not.” Next spring, she’ll play a priestess in the vampire thriller "Priest", set in “post-apocalyptic world run by the church.”
Traveling the world to investigate strange and unexplained phenomena for the Syfy series "Destination Truth", Josh Gates realizes that the air miles he’s racking up aren’t reducing his carbon footprint, but he does his best to counterbalance that by recycling and driving a Prius. “My big green goal this year is I’m going to bring my own bags to the grocery store,” says Gates, who’s living out the Indiana Jones adventure fantasies of his childhood on "Destination Truth" by visiting places like Madagascar, Cambodia and in the Sept. 8 premiere, Pompeii, where ghosts of those killed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. supposedly haunt the ruins.
Additional photo credits: Ashley Tisdale by Andrew Eccles/The CW; Maggie Q by John Nuttal/The CW.