CSI star Marg Helgenberger is currently renovating her house and keeping the environment in mind. “Right now the yard is being done, and one thing I emphasized is a drought-tolerant garden, with decomposed granite and drought-tolerant plants,” says the actress, who may also start a compost bin. “I can’t say that I have a green thumb, but I do love plants.”

Now in its ninth season, CSI has gone through some major changes. With the departure of William Petersen, Helgenberger’s Catherine Willows is running the lab, and Laurence Fishburne, as a professor-turned-Level 1 CSI Raymond Langston, has joined the team. Peterson, still a producer on the show, won’t reappear this season but may pop up later on. “Billy said he would be back to make sure I didn’t burn the joint down,” Fishburne quips.

Will Willows finally get a love interest? “Probably not right away,” Helgenberger says, “But I hope so.”


Toni Collette is green in many ways. “You can’t afford not to be,” says the Aussie actress, who debuts -- in quadruplicate -- as a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder (a.k.a. multiple personalities) in the new Showtime series The United States of Tara.

When Collette’s housewife character Tara goes off her medications, three alter egos emerge, the “anal, wound-up, control freak” Alice, the wild, uninhibited teen T, and a beer-swilling guy named Buck. “It’s a wonderful challenge and I can’t stress how much I love this job,” she raves, relishing her first TV series.

“I really appreciate the pace of working in television. In films there’s a lot of waiting around. This is incredibly satisfying. You sometimes shoot ten pages in a day. It’s really fantastic,” says the mother of a year-old daughter. “Being an actor is a brilliant job for a new mother because you can bring your family to work with you,” she notes.

Tara premieres Jan. 19 at 10 PM on Showtime.

Hugh Laurie, the man behind the cantankerous Dr. House, does his eco-friendly part when it comes to water consumption. “I drink from the tap,” he says. “No plastic bottles.”

The English actor thinks his House character’s medical brilliance trumps his lack of bedside manner. “If he were even one percent less skillful he would be intolerable,” muses Laurie. “I think people wish there was someone they could count on to get the answer no matter what that person was like. When you’re staring death in the face, you want the best, irrespective of his nature.”

Besides the hit Fox series, Laurie has a movie coming up in March -- he voices the role of a cockroach in the animated Monsters vs. Aliens.

“I try to do everything that is eco-friendly, even with my dog food that I buy,” says American Idol judge Paula Abdul, who’s involved with PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society) and other animal charities.

With Idol now airing its audition phase, Abdul says she empathizes with the rejected contestants because she didn’t always get the jobs either. On the TV show Fame, “It was between me and Janet Jackson, and they went with Janet. But I ended up choreographing her [later].” While a producer told her he almost selected her, “I’m glad they didn’t because I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” she says.

Stay tuned for next week’s Ecollywood column. In the meantime, check out our Ecollywood videos