Editor's note: This week's Ecollywood column was so long, we split it into two. Read the other half, including Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi from "Tangled," a green award for "Love and Other Drugs" and celebs backing Oxfam at the Cancun climate talks.
Best buddies in "Burlesque" who've become great friends off screen, Cher and Stanley Tucci are also of like minds when it comes to certain green issues. Take hybrid vehicles, the energy saving promise of which Cher deems "pretty much all bull***t." "They're questionable at best," agrees Tucci. "They have this huge promotion, and when you go to look at the gas mileage, it's not that different at all."
When Cher mentions that she turns off unneeded lights at home and has started changing her bulbs to compact fluorescents, Tucci, who insists he's "a very environmentally conscious person," shoots those down, too. "Don't you hate those? Everyone looks like they have jaundice. They're awful, and you can't dim them," he complains. When we suggest L.E.D. lights, he remarks, "Yeah, they come out with a new one and you've got to change them all again!" Adds Cher, "I think people would do a lot more if the government would put out a list" of what works and what doesn't. "I think that people are so willing, and would do so much if they could and they knew what to do."
On the set at the Sony lot, much of the cabaret set was recycled from previous Screen Gems films, "and it probably will be used and reconstructed for other Screen Gems movies," notes director Steven Antin, adding that recycling bins were provided and plastic water bottles were banned from the set. "Everyone had their own bottle and filled them up."
"Burlesque," which opens Nov. 24, marks Cher's return to the big screen after a dozen-year absence (save appearances as herself). But taking the role of struggling cabaret owner Tess took considerable persuasion, and a script revision that changed the character from an unlikable, stern boss into a sympathetic one. "Somebody like that would've just sold the club," Cher had reasoned. She ultimately accepted, because "I wanted to sing in a film. It was like my heart's desire always from the time I was about four," says the Oscar, Grammy and Emmy winner, who performs "Welcome to Burlesque" and "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" in the film.
Tucci admits he "was very nervous to meet Cher, but once we started working we got along very well. They would wrangle us in to keep us from laughing all the time." Adds Cher, "I think when you are having fun on the screen people get it, you know?" Having recently recorded a voice for the animated July release "Zookeeper" as the lioness mate of Sylvester Stallone's lion, she'll be working on a new album "until [another] movie with Stanley comes along." Tucci will be seen next in the Wall Street drama "Margin Call," due in April.
The cast and creators of USA's hit series "Royal Pains" convened at the Paley Center for Media for a panel discussion and Q&A and told us what they do to be environmentally friendly, on and off the set. "We drive a Prius, and recycle of course. We're not doing the solar thing yet but we would like to get into that down the road," said Mark Feuerstein (pictured right), who stars as Hamptons-based concierge doc Hank Lawson. "I believe in buying local and organic. I go to the farmers market every week and buy all my stuff fresh or from Whole Foods. We keep the chemicals on a pretty low level" when it comes to cleaning products, the concerned father of three added.
Paulo Costanzo, who plays Hank's brother Evan, has recycle bins at home, takes reusable bags to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and gave up his car when he (pictured left) moved to New York for the show. Jill Flint (Jill Casey), who has lived in New York since she was 17, never had a vehicle to give up. "I take public transportation. I recycle. I take shorter showers," said Flint, who installed a water dispenser when she realized she was using "way too many bottles of water. I realized that made a huge impact."
Producers Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch came to the same conclusion and banned bottled water from the production office, supplying coolers and recyclable cups. "There are recycling bins next to every garbage bin on set," noted Rauch. Scripts are printed on both sides 99 percent of the time, "and we're going to be getting iPads," to cut down further on paper. "Half our vehicles in the show are green vehicles," with Priuses and a Tesla appearing in the past. "We do what we can," Rauch added.
"Royal Pains" returns on Jan. 20 with the first of six new episodes that sees Hank revive his heart attack-stricken father Eddie (Henry Winkler), who's facing fraud charges, and treat a golfer's (Tom Cavanagh) crippling condition at a golf tournament. Romantic dilemmas for all the characters will continue, and the guest star roster will include Amy Sedaris, Jim Gaffigan, Bob Gunton, Julianne Nicholson, Christine Ebersole returning as Winkler's love interest, and in the winter finale, John Legend and Gilles Marini.
"I love playing a guy who's a medical McGyver. I have dramatic scenes, romantic scenes, action scenes. I love it all," raved Feuerstein, survivor of several failed series. "I look back on all those moments of doubt and insecurity and I'm so happy and relieved to be on a show that works," he said, thrilled to play a "charming, smart, funny guy with a moral compass." The downside: commuting to New York during production. He spends weekends with his family in L.A. and stays in an apartment next door to his parents' during the week. "It's like 'Everybody Loves Raymond,'" he laughed."
Paulo Costanzo was looking forward to shooting season three this spring (to premiere this summer) and the further development of his character. "I feel like he's growing every episode. I feel every episode has got something new." Jill Flint (pictured right) is similarly eager to return to her role as the hard-working, determined hospital administrator who is "not afraid to fight for what she wants," to which, as someone who supported herself as a waitress for years, she can well relate. "As an actress you have to fight, just to make it. You can't give up." She'll spend the next four months relaxing and taking dance and cooking classes. "I want to invest in myself because I haven't had the opportunity to do that," she said.
Additional photo credits: Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo and Jill Flint by Gerri Miller