Although fog obscured the view of the Pacific, the mission was clear at the annual Oceana SeaChange Summer Party: Saving the oceans of our planet. The event, honoring Glenn Close and Morgan Freeman, drew 400 guests to the spectacular Villa di Sogni in Laguna Beach, Calif., and raised nearly $900,000 for ocean conservation.
“Oceana is dealing with some of the most important issues of our planet, whether the oceans can be sustainable. It’s vital,” said Close, who does her own eco-conscious part by living “really simply. I’m not a huge consumer. I drive a Prius. I love to take the subway.” Thrilled to be nominated for an Emmy Award again (she won last year), the Damages star will start shooting the FX series’ third season in late September for a January premiere.
Close’s Damages nemesis Ted Danson, SeaChange co-chair and founder of the American Ocean’s Campaign, which merged with Oceana in 2001, is passionate about the cause and the pressing issues of over-fishing and offshore drilling. “It was wrong 25 years ago and it’s still wrong,” he says, calling the argument that drilling will create jobs and save money “a very cynical lie. It won’t make a difference at the pump beyond a penny or two, and there’s no guarantee that the oil will come to Americans because it’s a worldwide market. You create more jobs with green energy than you do with oil platforms.”
Danson is also concerned about ocean acidification, caused by our increased carbon dioxide output, that’s changing the pH balance of the water and threatening the ecosystem. “It’s attacking reefs and the bottom of the food chain. It could be disastrous,” he worries. Not surprisingly, he’s very conscientious about turning off lights when he leaves a room and bringing fabric bags to the supermarket. He and his wife Mary Steenburgen and three kids all drive hybrids (“We have three Priuses, a Camry and a Toyota Highlander”) and he takes the subway when he’s working in New York on Damages — he expects to shoot about six more episodes — and his new HBO series Bored to Death, which premieres Sept. 20.
“People see the ads in magazines with the powder white sand and turquoise waters but they don’t think about the fact that they might not be able to swim in them soon because the fish are not surviving. Fish is a source of food for a good part of the world and we’re depleting it and over-fishing and trawling and polluting. It’s a big passion of mine,” says actress Kate Walsh (pictured right), who traveled to the Virgin Islands earlier this summer to shoot a commercial for Oceana about saving endangered sea turtles. It will air in October to coincide with a lobbying campaign in Washington, D.C., to secure protection for turtle nesting areas and legislation to limit development and commercial fishing and trawling in these areas.
Walsh, who drives a Cadillac Escalade hybrid (she does those sexy Cadillac commercials), promises “a lot of drama and trauma” when Private Practice returns to ABC on Oct. 1. She’ll also be seen in the apocalyptic thriller Legion, due in theaters in January.
“The oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth, and without the oceans we don’t have a whole hell of a lot. I have two young kids. I’m trying to make the world a better place for them,” says actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar, explaining what drew him to Oceana. At home, his family is conscious of its energy consumption. “We make sure when we’re not in rooms to turn off the lights and we turn down the air conditioning during the day. We’re trying to make a difference. We’re planning on putting skylights in some of the rooms as well.”
While waiting for the word on the future of his TNT series Raising the Bar, he’ll head to Broadway in the comedy called The Understudy, co-starring Julie White and Justin Kirk. Rehearsals begin next month for an October-January run.
Former Men in Trees co-stars Anne Heche and James Tupper (pictured left), parents of a 5-month-old son (and an older boy from Heche’s ex-marriage) are similarly concerned about future generations. “Our children need to be able to swim and play and have their kids be able to swim and play in the ocean,” says Heche. “We’re happy to come out and support the people that are trying to create change,” adds Tupper, who is looking into acquiring solar panels for their home and who just bought a Vespa scooter that “gets 129 miles to the gallon.” “It’s green and fun,” declares Heche. She can currently be seen in HBO’s Hung, which wraps its first season Sept. 13. Tupper’s new NBC hospital drama Mercy debuts on Sept. 23.
Lauren Hutton, a diving aficionada who has noticed the deterioration of the coral reefs as she travels around the world, is another avid Oceana supporter who lives green at her homes in California and New Mexico, where solar panels provide her energy. “I recycle, I don’t use plastic bags, I raise my own vegetables and compost everything. I ride a bicycle and drive a car that gets 35 miles to the gallon. I don’t take planes unless I absolutely have to, and I don’t breed. That helps a lot.” She’ll be seen this fall in The Joneses with Demi Moore and David Duchovny.
“If the oceans deteriorate at the rate they are now we’re not going to be able to swim in the same waters,” warns Olympic swimming gold medalist Aaron Piersol (pictured right), who grew up near the Pacific at Newport Beach, California. “It’s about educating people about eating fish that aren’t over-fished and bringing canvas bags to the grocery store. Little things do make a difference.” Involved with Oceana for the past four years, he’s organizing the second annual Race for the Oceans fundraiser that will be held in Fort Myers, Fla., on Oct. 13. He’s on a break from swimming now, but may compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Greek may be about hard-partying college kids, but the show is dead serious about being green on the set. “We have recycle bins everywhere. We have big water jugs and everyone has their refillable bottles,” says Amber Stevens, who plays Ashleigh in the ABC Family series, which has its third season premiere Aug. 31. This season, her character will contend with the responsibilities of being sorority president and deal with boyfriend drama. “The ZBZ house is struggling with their status on campus, they’re no longer the #1 sorority, and it’s all falling on Ashleigh’s shoulders. And she’s trying to figure out if her relationship will work,” she says, noting, “It will be answered in the season premiere.”