Based on the Ken Follett bestseller, Starz’ eight-hour miniseries "Pillars of the Earth", about the 12th century struggle for the English throne and the building of a new cathedral, was shot in Hungary using modern eco-friendly practices. “As a general rule, we’ve significantly reduced the amount of refuse we create and continually look for ways to reduce further,” Budapest-based producer Howard Ellis told MNN via e-mail. “In the offices and on the set, we recycle all the glass, plastics and paper. We try as much as possible to keep documents in electronic format for distribution. Documents are printed double-sided to reduce the amount of paper. Any food waste goes into a mulch/fertilizer program. We have stopped the overuse/abuse of plastic bags and plastic bottles. We have turned to water coolers in offices and sets. The bottles are returned for reuse, and we use paper cups instead of plastic or Styrofoam.”

In terms of energy use, “We tap into the power grids on location as much as feasible to reduce the amount of diesel burned from generators, [which] reduces the fuel consumption and emissions. 70-75 percent of our vehicles are powered by new technology diesel engines. We have turned to condensation cooling units in lieu of air conditioners, also reducing the fuel consumption and emissions. No Freon.”

Construction is green, too. “As much as possible and taking safety into consideration, we build sets with recycled lumber from other building sites,” Ellis continues. “The lumber from our sets is reused for various types of construction both in and out of the film industry. We use water-based paints instead of oil-based products. We use plaster in lieu of Styrofoam. We avoid the use of rubber and plastics as much as possible. All living greens used on our sets are replanted in forests, fields and parks.

“What is often overlooked is our effect on forests, green fields and the green areas surrounding our sets and where our equipment is parked on a daily basis. Film shoots are often allowed the privilege of shooting in sensitive areas and it is our responsibility to protect these areas for the future,” he explains. “Whether protected or not it is our responsibility to leave sites in better condition than when we arrived. We always clean up and restore our locations to pristine condition and quite regularly clean up the mess left by others.”

These initiatives add up to considerable savings across the board. “It is undeniable that our treatment of energy results in cost saving and our treatment of refuse/construction results in the reduction of the amount of materials used. Our restoration activities actually cost a significant amount of money, but it is our responsibility to leave no permanent footprint.”

"Pillars of the Earth", starring Ian McShane ("Deadwood") in one of his trademark villain roles as the devious Bishop (pictured right), premieres July 23 with a two-hour episode and will run hour-long episodes each week until the two-hour conclusion on Aug. 27.


Disney’s Friends for Change: Project Green environmental movement has focused its latest efforts on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico via new educational videos and a $100,000 donation towards coastal cleanup. “It’s important for us to speak to kids about this unprecedented environmental disaster, to acknowledge their emotions about the news we’re all seeing on a daily basis and encourage them to channel their feelings into positive action,” said Beth Stevens, senior vice president of environmental affairs for the Walt Disney Company. “Kids want to help and, even though the cleanup in the Gulf is a job for trained professionals, all local waterways lead to the ocean, so we’re recruiting kids to help keep them clean.”

In a new spot running on Disney Channel, Disney XD, Radio Disney and, teen stars Joe Jonas, Debby Ryan (both pictured left), Brenda Song and Moises Arias share their feelings about the disaster and suggest ways kids can keep local waterways clean. A $100,000 donation from the iTunes proceeds of the Friends for Change song “Make a Wave” has been directed to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to support recovery in the Gulf, half of it designated for the National Audubon Society.


"Entourage" star Adrian Grenier stars in a new Oceana campaign designed to increase awareness of the plight of bluefin tuna, now threatened by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I couldn’t sit back idly while this amazing predator is being pushed to the brink of extinction,” said Grenier, who filmed the spot amid a school of bluefin in March. “We are fishing bluefin at alarming rates, and now their spawning grounds are also threatened by the oil spill in the Gulf. We need to take action and keep the bluefin from going fast. I hope that my involvement will bring attention to what is going on in the bluefin fishery,” Grenier added. “I want these PSAs to encourage people to get involved and help Oceana save these amazing creatures.”

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Additional photo credits: Ian McShane courtesy Starz; Joe Jonas/Debby Ryan by Rick Rowell/ABC.