Ecollywood: Our weekly celebrity column
A sitcom star creates a bug science show, Larry David's TV wife helps schools, and much more.
Wed, Oct 13 2010 at 12:21 PM
GABFEST: Sara Gilbert (far left) will join Leah Remini, Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete, and Marissa Jaret Winokur on a new talk show. (Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS)
"I'm vegan so I'm about as green as you get," says Sara Gilbert, who was a vegetarian for two decades before that. "I think the diet in this country is kind of broken so I like talking about that."
She'll have ample opportunity to do so on "The Talk," the mom-centric CBS daytime chatfest that premieres Oct. 18. In addition to participating in the panel alongside Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete, Leah Remini and Marissa Jaret Winokur, who will do field reporting, Gilbert is producing the show, which is based on her idea. "We're going to be pretty topical," she says, noting that guests will have to be willing to dish, not just plug their latest projects. Gilbert, who has two children with her partner Allison, realizes she'll need to do the same. "I've never really discussed my personal life, but this is a talk show so obviously I'm going to be discussing my life more when topics come up that are appropriate." The former "Roseanne" star, most recently seen on "ER," "The Big Bang Theory" and "Hawthorne," isn't giving up acting, "But certainly this is my first priority," she says of "The Talk." "I'm putting everything that I have into this."
What "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" does for needy families, NBC's new series "School Pride" does for schools in need of sprucing up. Cheryl Hines (pictured right) of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" steps behind the camera as co-executive producer of the series, which aims to involve students, parents and entire communities in the renovations that often include a green element. "We do have a teaching garden in a few of our schools. We're trying to inspire people to plant gardens in their own schools so kids can do the planting and study it," says Hines. "In one of our episodes we are going to try to give the kids healthy food choices to guide them in the right direction."
Hines, the mother of a six-year-old daughter, got the idea for the show while volunteering at schools for Read Across America and began helping out in other ways, like cleaning, painting and repairing. "When you go into the classroom and paint the walls and scrub the floors, it makes a difference. The teacher and the kids come in and feel good." Hosted by Kym Whitley, "School Pride" premieres Oct. 15, and Hines will be part of "Curb'"s eighth season when it returns to HBO next year.
When it comes to eco-friendliness, "it's about being conscious, being aware: Is this good for the environment?" says Masi Oka (pictured left), who was involved in several green commercials for NBC while on "Heroes." He's now playing the recurring role of Dr. Max Bergman, the quirky Jewish-Japanese medical examiner, on "Hawaii 5-0." "I liken him to a mad professor," Oka says of the bespectacled MENSA member and piano prodigy with a Steinway in his morgue and few social skills. As he often did on "Heroes," he provides comic relief. "I do enjoy making people laugh. That's the common thread in my performances. There will always be a part of me in every role," he says.
Ironically, considering the character, Oka is admittedly squeamish about blood and guts and avoids watching horror movies and medical shows. "I was good at math and physics but organic chemistry was one subject I could not get through," he says, but the most challenging aspect of the role was not the (fake) blood or the tricky medical terminology. "The hardest thing was putting the rubber gloves on. They don't teach that in acting class," says Oka, who has shot two episodes so far, the first due to air Oct. 18 on CBS. He'll also play the missing title character in the comedy thriller "Searching for Sonny," awaiting release, and will also appear in "The Defenders."
Wilmer Valderrama (pictured right) may not be the first star you'd expect to be involved with a show about insects for the Science Channel, but he's nevertheless producing "Bugging Out," a docuseries premiering Oct. 19 about Ken the Bug Guy, the #1 U.S. supplier of arachnids and insects to hobbyists and Hollywood. Valderrama discovered the Concord, Calif., bug dealer when he went online to find a pet praying mantis for his brother, and saw the TV potential in his story as soon as he met Ken and his wife and crew. "They're the perfect liaison to a world that's so misunderstood and to disarm that world and bring us in," says the actor, who now keeps a mantis of his own named Spawn in his office.
The voice of "Handy Manny," the Environmental Media Association Award winning animated children's series that's up for another EMA Award this Saturday, Valderrama is developing a plush toy line that will in part fund eco-charities. As for his on-camera activities, he has three films for 2011: the murder mystery "The Girl is in Trouble," the Tom Hanks movie "Larry Crowne" ("Undercovers" Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays his girlfriend), and the romantic comedy "From Prada to Nada," opposite Camilla Belle and Lisa Vega, in which he plays "a scary street figure who's actually an artist with a heart of gold. It's 'Sense and Sensibility' with an East L.A. touch," describes Valderrama, who may soon return to TV comedy — he has a deal in place for an ABC pilot.
Tune in: Disney's Friends' For Change campaign teams up with the Ocean Conservancy to launch an International Coastal Cleanup campaign in the Gulf of Mexico on Disney Channel Oct. 15, with stars like the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato taking part. Discovery gets up close with extreme weather in the fourth season premiere of "Storm Chasers," kicking off Oct. 13.
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