Editor's note: This week's Ecollywood column was so long, we split it in two. Read the other half, about Meredith Viera, the CW network, and much more.

NBC’s "Parenthood" is set in Sausalito, Calif., but the series, which returns for its second season Sept. 14, is filmed on the Universal Studios lot, where many steps are taken to conserve materials and resources. “Everyone on set carries around their own water bottles and all our food waste is being composted. We repurpose sets whenever possible,” says Steve Ducey of the show’s art department. “All NBC shows have a green rep who comes in and helps us achieve our green goals. We have a meeting every few months to talk about that.”

Many of the cast members try to follow suit at home. “Anything to do with washing, cleaning, my wife is all over it,” says Craig T. Nelson, who composts and grows tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and Romaine lettuce. His role as patriarch Zeke is one of his favorites to date. “I love the fact that he’s so flawed. He’s got so many issues,” he says. His marriage to Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) hit a rocky patch, but Nelson doesn’t think they’ll split. “There’s love and a deep spirituality between them.”

Camille nevertheless will be asserting her desire for a little “me time,” says Bedelia, a painter whose own art will be seen as Camille’s on the show. She drives an old Toyota Tacoma truck to haul those canvases around and drive back and forth to her home in Santa Barbara, but she reduces her carbon footprint by not flying if she doesn’t have to, recycling, and using natural products. “I don’t want any chemical products in my house. I shop at Whole Foods, bring my own bags, and use recycled paper towels.”

“I just got a new car, a diesel. The mileage was quite similar to the hybrid,” says Lauren Graham, who plays eldest daughter Sarah, for whom things are finally looking up after a drama and trauma-filled first season. “Now she’s getting a little bit of a break, a little bit of an opportunity” in the form of a design internship at the shoe company where her brother Adam (Peter Krause) works, and a love interest — her new boss, played by William Baldwin.


When interior designer Nate Berkus (pictured left) does a room makeover, he keeps the planet in mind. “I care about the carbon footprint of things. It’s one of the things I think about. You might be getting a great deal on this sofa, but what country was it made in, and what did it cost the environment to get it here from there? You have to be a citizen of the world,” says the Oprah Winfrey protégé, who’s launching his own daytime show on NBC stations Sept. 13.

“We live in a time when everything is throwaway, glue guns and Styrofoam. I’m not into that and I never have been. 80 percent of what I use in my interiors is recycled. At home, everything I have is reclaimed, reused, reconditioned or found as is. I’ve never been a snob about where something comes from. I’ve only cared about the quality.”

While he’s not a gardener, he’s thrilled with the “living walls” on the "Nate Berkus Show" set — they’re made from recycled bottles and are covered with plants. Another cool feature is a 3D Instant Design Studio he’ll use to do makeovers. Guests will be a mix of real people and celebs like premiere week visitors Dolly Parton, Elizabeth Edwards and mom-to-be Rachel Dratch, for whom Berkus designs a nursery. Might Oprah stop by sometime? “If there is an appropriate kind of natural segment that would make sense, yes,” he says.


“I’m not as green as I think I should be. I’m making efforts. I want to get a hybrid car. I’d like to get involved in more green causes, whatever presents itself,” says Jesse Metcalfe (pictured right), who’s starring in the Hallmark Channel movie "Fairfield Road," premiering Sept. 11. “I play a political assistant to the mayor of Boston. It’s basically a story about finding yourself, about small town values being corrupted by politics,” he sums up.

Previously best known as Gabby’s (Eva Longoria Parker) gardener lover on "Desperate Housewives," Metcalfe plays a young U.S. marshal in the new Jerry Bruckheimer action series "Chase," premiering on NBC Sept. 20. Metcalfe describes his character on that show as intelligent, driven, capable, and logical, “with a bit of a silver spoon. He comes from the North so he’s a fish out of water with this grizzled, Southern task force. He’s without a doubt a newbie.”

As the show’s title suggests, the role is extremely physical and requires daily workouts in addition to the FBI and marshal training Metcalfe and co-stars Kelli Giddish, Cole Hauser and Amaury Nolasco underwent. “Everybody upped their training regimen,” says the actor, who works out a minimum of five days a week with boxing, cardio, running, weight lifting and yoga. “There's a lot of running. There are a lot of action sequences, stunts and fight sequences. We're doing it all in 100-plus heat, in Texas,” notes Metcalfe, who’s next up on the big screen opposite Erika Christensen in "The Tortured," “a very twisted horror film about revenge.”


“I’ve been teaching my kids a lot about recycling,” says "Grey’s Anatomy"’s Chyler Lee (pictured left), whose son has taken those lessons to heart. “If I forget and put something in the wrong bin he’ll tell me. He’s an incredibly compassionate child who’s concerned about the state of the Earth.” The mother of three, who lives near the Pacific in Orange County, Calif., does beach cleanups with her family and often carpools with her husband to L.A. “We use green products when we clean, and we shut off lights and conserve energy.” She also works closely with Generosity Water and The Thirst Project to bring clean drinking water to parts of the world that lack it.

On Sept. 13, Leigh stars in the Lifetime movie "The 19th Wife," about a murder in a polygamist community. While she related to her character’s strong sense of family and faith, her research showed her how hard and sad life for the real-life counterparts can be. For her, the movie’s message was clear: “No matter what is thrust upon you, no matter what your upbringing is or what you were told to believe, it’s a matter of following your heart. Don’t be afraid to break outside the box.”

Now back on the set of "Grey’s," which premieres Sept. 23 on ABC, Leigh’s character Lexie is dealing with the aftermath of the traumatic shooting spree in the finale, for which she feels responsible as she removed the gunman’s wife from life support. “She ends up in the psych ward for a few days after quite a public breakdown.” After that she has to prove to her colleagues she’s able to work. “She feels she has to regain everybody’s trust that she can handle it,” says Leigh, “because everyone is tiptoeing around her thinking she’ll crack again.”


Tune In: On Sept. 10 on Animal Planet’s "Blood Dolphins," Ric and Lincoln O’Barry’s efforts to save the cetaceans continues in the first of two episodes that bring them face to face with dolphin hunters in the Solomon Islands. Also on Sept. 10, Discovery debuts "Beyond Survival With Les Stroud," a new series in which the former "Survivorman" seeks out remote indigenous tribes to learn rituals like poison-arrow hunting and ritual scarification. Planet Green premieres the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Garden," about a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles on Sept. 11.

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Additional photo credits: Nate Berkus courtesy ABC; Jesse Metcalfe by Chris Haston/NBC, Chyler Lee courtesy ABC.