Generosity Water's fourth annual Night of Generosity furthered the nonprofit's mission of building wells for communities lacking clean water, raising $150,000 to reach its goal of financing 25 new wells. "There are more than a billion people in the world without access to clean drinking water. Water is the most basic need in the world and everybody should have access to it," said Generosity Water General Manager Michael Muniz.
Sherri Shepherd, co-host of the event, talked about seeing a video about the well-building process that made an impression on her. "I saw the smiles on those kids' faces. We take water for granted, and what Generosity Water does is just so wonderful," she said, noting that she conserves water at home by reusing all her bottles and containers. She's looking forward to returning to "Dancing With the Stars" for the May 21/22 finale. "I hope I get to do a Latin dance because I never got to do one," she said, outlining other big plans. During "The View's" summer hiatus, she hopes to do a pilot for a proposed sitcom, continue hosting "The Newlywed Game," audition for other projects, work on another book, and go on vacation with her husband somewhere tropical — and conducive for romance: she wants to have another child.
Quddus, host of the upcoming ABC singing competition "Duets," serves on the advisory board of Generosity Water. "It's really important because it's the leading cause of death in the world. The fact that people don't have clean water is absurd. We have to do something about it. It's a correctable thing," he said, noting that he personally conserves by taking shorter showers, never leaving the tap running, and carrying a refillable water bottle with him.
Of Haitian descent on his father's side, Quddus visited the earthquake-decimated country with another organization to talk to government officials and grassroots leaders about a new eco-friendly innovation called the solar pump. "It's very user friendly, costs $10 to make, charges four hours in the sun and gives off eight hours of light and lasts three to four years. It's completely sustainable," he said. Haiti, he added, is still plagued by "abject poverty, but the people are so resilient, so beautiful and smart and talented and they're not represented well in the media, which skews them as these helpless, hopeless people and they're not. They're wonderful and they deserve our attention still."
Quddus calls "Duets," which premieres May 24, "a very special show. It takes unknown amateurs and puts them on stage to perform with a superstar. 'The Voice' is great, they have superstars coaching and mentoring the artists, but they don't actually get in the ring and compete with them. That's the big distinction," he compared. The stakes are higher. There's more dynamic action between the two people on stage singing. These are superstars that don't normally get in the ring like that." Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles, Robin Thicke and John Legend (replacing Lionel Richie, who bowed out due to album promotion commitments) will partner with the contestants.
"It's probably the most treatable, preventable cause of death in the world," Carolyn Hennessey said of unclean water, noting that she conserves water home by showering with her husband. The "General Hospital" and "Cougar Town" actress is joining the cast of HBO's "True Blood" this season, recurring as a member of the Vampire Authority starting with the second episode. Her favorite aspect? "Eating people. I cannot actually tell you the last time I've had this much fun. My fang fitting alone was tremendous," she raved. "It's a little difficult to talk with fangs but it's not hard at all to bite someone. You get used to that really quickly."
Hennessey hadn't seen the series before she was cast but watched all four seasons in ten days over Christmas/New Year's, and got hooked, now totally getting the allure of vampires. "They're undead and heartless and yet they were just as human as you or I, and they feel things much deeper, their senses are so much more elevated and heightened so if a vampire falls in love with you apparently the sex is just amazing," she said. So far, she hasn't had a love interest, "but one is always hoping."
"When I heard that Generosity Water was doing this event I absolutely wanted to be a part of it and give my support because I think that they're doing amazing things. Any awareness you can bring to a good cause is always important," said Natalia Ramos ("House of Anubis"), who grew up aware of the water crisis in drought-prone Australia. "They're really serious about it there. There are limits to the water you can use. You have to time your showers. Here, we're really quite spoiled and we take a lot of things for granted. But little things like a leaky water faucet bug me so much. I was at a friend's house the other day and said, 'You need to get that fixed!'"
Ramos, who recently shot a college comedy called "Resident Advisor," is a college student herself, enrolled as a political science major at USC, though she's taking two semesters off. "I've always had a fascination with politics and international affairs. It started off as just a hobby and now I'm thinking I'd love to combine acting and politics one day along these lines, philanthropy and humanitarian work," she said. "I feel that a lot of people speak out and don't understand what they're talking about but I think that's a huge responsibility that you have."
Photos: Ryan Burch