Inspired by a true incident and the book "Freeing the Whales" by Thomas Rose that chronicled the rescue of three gray whales that became trapped in the ice off the coast of Barrow, Alaska, in 1988, "Big Miracle" stars Drew Barrymore as an environmentalist (based on Anchorage-based Greenpeace director Cindy Lowry) and John Krasinski as a newspaper reporter, Kristen Bell as an ambitious reporter and Ted Danson as an oil tycoon.

The Oceana founder, who does not believe in offshore drilling, "found it liberating to play somebody on other side of an issue I'd been working on my entire life. It's fun to play John Wayne."

No whales were harmed in the making of the movie, as animatronic replicas, complete with barnacles and scars, were created and shipped to the set in Anchorage, Alaska. "Big Miracle" arrives in theaters Feb. 3.


With all the prop (but real) cupcakes on the "2 Broke Girls" set in addition to high-calorie craft service table goodies, Kat Dennings has begun ordering food from an organic delivery service called Paleta. "I was eating peanut M&Ms every six hours for energy, and coffee, cola, and I was getting sick all the time," says the actress, who realized she needed better nutrition to keep her stamina up and chose Paleta because it's "all organic and local, and it's hard to do on your own." She feels so much better now, she reports. "It's like night and day."


"People think that to save the planet, you have to be a billionaire superhero, but you don't. Take shorter showers. Brush your teeth without letting the water run. All of that adds up," says Cymphonique Miller, star of the new Nickelodeon series "How to Rock," which is pretty eco-conscious as well, she reports. "They have recycling bins all over, and we recycle all the scripts."

Miller, 15, the daughter of hip-hop mogul Percy "Master P" Miller and sister of rap star Romeo, is poised to follow in their footsteps with the role of Kacey Simon, a high school mean girl ousted from the popular group when she gets braces and glasses and subsequently finds new friends — and learns about teamwork and friendship — when she becomes the lead singer of Gravity 5. "What I love about Kacey is that she's an example for me that people can change. She's strong and she's passionate and she loves music so I get to do music throughout the show," says Miller, who co-wrote and sings the show's theme, "Only You Can Be You." It will be on the series' companion CD, after which she plans to work on her own record, inspired by some of her influences that include Mariah Carey, Minnie Riperton, Jennifer Holliday, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson. She also plans concert appearances, "but there are no specific dates yet," she says.

"How to Rock" premieres Feb. 4 on Nickelodeon.


Taking a cue from the Bill Murray movie, Nat Geo Wild celebrates Groundhog Day Feb. 2 with "American Beaver," repeating the doc about dam builders over and over between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. ET/PT. As an alternative to the Super Bowl for non-fan nature lovers, Wild will present its all-day "Predator Bowl" lineup of programs in which the animal kingdom's fiercest creatures face off. Beginning at noon on Feb. 5, it will conclude at 10 p.m. with the new special "Lion Battle Zone," in which the titular big cats battle Cape buffalo in Tanzania's Ruaha National Park.

PBS' "Nova" explores an excavation site containing preserved bones of extinct creatures like mammoths and mastodons in "Ice Age Death Trap," premiering Feb.1. It's followed by the "Great White Shark" episode of "Inside Nature's Giants."

Photos: Universal (Danson), Monty Brinton/CBS (Dennings), Michael Elins/Nickelodeon (Miller)

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Ecollywood: Odds and ends 2/2/2012
Saving whales in 'Big Miracle,' Kat Dennings goes organic, Cymphonique Miller saves water.