Ecollywood: The coolest 3-D owl movie you'll ever see
Plus: Notes from 'Dexter,' 'The Amazing Race,' 'Desperate Housewives,' and more.
Thu, Sep 23 2010 at 3:48 PM
Photo: Warner Bros.
Editor's note: This week's Ecollywood column was so jam-packed with celebs, we opted to split it into three. Read the other two sections:
Based on the first three books in the "Guardians of Ga’Hoole" series by Kathryn Lasky, the 3-D animated feature "Legend of the Guardians," a tale of good vs. evil in a mythical owl kingdom, is teaming up with the National Wildlife Federation to raise awareness of education and conservation for owls and other creatures via learning, craft and activity projects available for download at www.nwf.org/owls.
In theaters Sept. 24, the first animated film directed by Zack Snyder ("300," "Watchmen") is gorgeously rendered, “the most stunning visuals you’ll ever see. You’re flying with these owls and you feel like you’re there. You can see every feather on their wings,” says Jim Sturgess, who voices the hero, Soren. The British and Australian voiceover cast includes Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving and "True Blood"’s Ryan Kwanten as Soren’s brother Kludd, who’s lured to the dark side.
Not surprisingly for a computer-animated feature, the production emphasized electronic communications. “We’re really careful about printing,” says Snyder, who also conserves by having synthetic grass in his yard at home. “It saves millions of gallons of water,” he figures. Englishman Sturgess is similarly mindful of his water and energy consumption, and notes that in the U.K. people are becoming more aware now of things like recycling, though “I’ve been doing it for years,” he says.
Even after 17 seasons, "The Amazing Race" hasn’t gotten old for host Phil Keoghan (pictured right). “I get to go on this whirlwind trip around the world and in 25 days I see the most extraordinary things and meet the most extraordinary people. Sometimes I think, ‘How the hell did I end up with this job?’ I feel very lucky,” says Keoghan, who tells us that the peripatetic production “is pretty green in terms of the way stuff is constructed. We try to keep things very organic. We use a lot of local materials.” Of course, all the travel is quite energy-consumptive. “I’m guilty of having a pretty big carbon footprint,” acknowledges Keoghan, the son of an environmental scientist and New Zealand National Conservation Authority board member. “I fly about 400,000 miles a year. But I bike 12,000 miles a year and drive my car maybe 3,000.”
This season, which premieres on CBS Sept 26, features such pairings as a woman and the birth mother she only recently met, some new game play elements, and new locations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, “places that have quite a dramatic effect on the teams. I love watching people go to a place that just freaks them out and makes them realize, ‘This ain’t Kansas anymore,’” says Keoghan. Thinking ahead, he’d like to see another all-stars edition, a second-chance show for teams eliminated early, and a celeb pair or two. Stars like Drew Barrymore, Sarah Jessica Parker and Neil Patrick Harris have told him they want to race, but Keoghan is skeptical. “I don’t know how the celebrities would go out on the road without a trailer, without wardrobe and makeup, or personal assistants. They talk a big game, but stars want to be taken care of, and on "Amazing Race" there just isn’t time for that.”
Whether serial killer Dexter has a conscience is open to debate, but the Showtime series certainly has one when it comes to waste and consumption: the production recycles, has banned water bottles, and cuts down on paper. “We print scripts on two sides and try to distribute electronically whenever possible,” says executive producer Chip Johannessen. Following the brutal Trinity killer murder of Dexter’s wife Rita in the season four finale, the Sept. 26 premiere finds the titular serial killer a single dad, dealing with “responsibility, guilt and possibly remorse,” says Michael C. Hall (pictured left). “But I think we can expect that he’s still fundamentally stone cold crazy and is probably going to keep killing people.” Julia Stiles, Peter Weller, Shawn Hatosy and Jonny Lee Miller join the cast in recurring roles.
Actress Vanessa Williams (pictured right) takes a cue from her dad when it comes to green living. “He was very eco-savvy and grew all of our vegetables. During the ‘70s energy crisis he bought a motorcycle that got 99 miles to the gallon,” says Williams, who is “conscious of energy in terms of turning off the AC and lights and saving water. I have an herb garden. I wish I had time to devote to a vegetable garden,” says the actress, who segues from "Ugly Betty"’s Mode magazine to "Desperate Housewives" as the newest resident of Wisteria Lane. Rockily married to a New York Yankee, Renee Perry is the college roommate and “frenemy” of Lynette (Felicity Huffman) who moves into Edie Britt’s old house. “They have a competitive relationship that gets a little rough at times,” says Williams. “We punch below the belt quite a bit in the first episode,” airing Sept. 26 on ABC.
Williams likens joining an established cast to being “the new kid in school. It's not difficult but it's new and everyone has been tremendously generous and welcoming. And I’m coming in fully confident of what I can do,” which includes playing mean quite well. “I hear there may be competition between Bree (Marcia Cross) and Renee over Brian Austin Green, who plays one of the new characters,” adds Williams, who eagerly signed on to the series she calls “trailblazing. It’s opened the door for so many women my age to be able to star in television shows,” she notes. “It wasn’t that long ago that when you were done being the ingénue you were the mom or the district attorney.”
On the set of ABC’s new series "No Ordinary Family," “We’re very cognizant about being green,” reports star Michael Chiklis (pictured left). “We have recycling bins, everyone has water canteens, and we’re all using the iPad for our scripts. Over the course of one season with all the rewrites, that’s a lot of paper that’s not printed out. It’s phenomenal,” says Chiklis, who drives a hybrid SUV.
Like a sort of live-action version of "The Incredibles," "No Ordinary Family" is about a police department sketch artist who takes his wife and teen kids on a trip to South America, where they survive a plane crash in the Amazon and bring home unusual powers like super strength, super speed, mind reading and mathematical genius. For Chiklis, last seen in the decidedly darker cop drama "The Shield," “it was an opportunity to be involved in something with more mass appeal. I loved the script, and the superhero element in the context of a family drama appealed to me. It’s fantasy, it’s wish fulfillment, it’s escapist,” he says. “I’m a fan of the genre, and I think if we can pull this off it will be something really special for people to watch every week.” "No Ordinary Family" premieres Sept. 28.
Tune in: The National Geographic specials "After the Spill: The Last Catch" and "Explorer: Can the Gulf Survive?" airing Sept. 28, examine the long-term impact of the Gulf oil spill on a Louisiana fishing community and the region’s ecosystem, respectively. Nat Geo Wild’s "Expedition Wild" returns for its second season Sept. 27 with an episode called "Yellowstone Spring," and "Nature" kicks off its 29th season on PBS Sept. 26 with "Cuba: The Accidental Eden," focusing on the island’s diverse natural environment.