I adore pop culture. I live for the environment. But I rarely have a chance to indulge my two obsessions at the same time. So when I was invited to cover the Environmental Media Awards, I did an Ashlee Simpson-esque jig. Fashion! Hybrids! Great hair! Really, could a gossip-rag-reading, E!-network-loving enviro ask for anything more? (Well, maybe Britney Spears on my Us Weekly Fantasy League team, but I digress.)
It was my first time talking to real-live celebrities, so I was a smidge nervous. OK, Richard Simmons did skip by me once on the streets of Omaha and say “Hi,” but I wasn’t required to maintain an actual conversation with him. Would the beautiful people shun me on the green carpet? Would the other reporters ask the same questions that I wanted to ask? Dear god, would some Manolo-shod starlet laugh at my shoes?
I shouldn’t have been so worried. Most of the stars seemed genuinely interested in helping to raise environmental awareness, and all but a few stopped to chat. Other reporters were asking questions like “Who designed your dress?” and “Any fitness tips for the holidays?” And no one looked at my shoes (which were pretty cute, if I must say so myself).
My first cue that this event was different from your everyday Tinseltown shindig was the big brown catering truck labeled “Kopali Organics: This bus runs on vegetable oil.” The second was that the only cars allowed near the carpet were Toyota and Lexus hybrids. (Three guesses who the sponsor was.) Signs were made of cloth instead of plastic, handouts were printed on recycled paper with soy ink, and the entire show was carbon neutral. Kudos to the organizers for making sure that more than the carpet was green.
I snagged a spot on the press line and, after eavesdropping on my fellow reporters for a few minutes, soon discovered how weekly magazines manage to round up 10 celeb beauty tips issue after issue: they send an army of writers out to ask every actress they see for their favorite lipstick color. Taking their lead, I started asking attendees the one question that was on my mind at that moment: Why wasn’t the environment a bigger part of the national debate during this election?
Flea, who seems to be a very serious, sincere guy when not bouncing around the stage with a sock on his hoo-ha, had this to say: “It’s very rarely a sexy thing to talk about on the news. But there’s always a groundswell of environmental activists that work really hard, and I’m grateful to them for inspiring people like me to be conscious of the earth.” (Mr. Flea is far too modest. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were one of the first bands to use Living Tree Paper in their CD covers. Later in the evening, they won the EMA Missions in Music Award.)
I also chatted with Judge Hatchett, of the eponymous TV show, who was looking far more sunny than hatchet-y in a sexy yellow dress. So why did she think the environment didn’t get more play this election? “I think it’s the urgency of the war. At the end of the day, all of these things are interwoven — it’s the war and it’s what’s happening with the environment.”
Things went from big-picture to smaller when I talked with Bahar Soomekh, who appeared in Crash and is set to star with Taye Diggs in a new ABC series called Day Break. (Lucky dog.) She told me about the changes she was making in her life: “We’re remodeling. We’re doing total green insulation. We’re using recycled jeans. We’re utilizing solar energy. We’re planting native plants. The little things make such a huge impact.” Can you tell she was an environmental studies major in college?
Since this awards show was supposed to be all about media, I asked Constance Zimmer of Boston Legal whether she thought environmental issues got enough airtime in this country. “This event is becoming bigger and bigger,” she said. “That movie [An Inconvenient Truth] completely floored a lot of people. It’s terrifying. And you know sometimes people have to be terrified to make a difference.” And how exactly should we go about making a difference? “Stop cutting down trees and putting up frickin’ buildings. Do we really need more people living in Los Angeles?” Hmm.
The threat of global warming so clearly portrayed in Truth was on Lauren Holly‘s mind, too. “Everyone’s talking about the weather. It’s November. We broke heat records that haven’t been broken in [129 years] yesterday. It makes me nervous. Maybe I’m more aware of it because I have children.” Her environmental wish? “I wish I could drive a hybrid. I can’t find one that fits all my carseats.”
The men of the evening were definitely Lawrence Bender and Scott Burns, two of the producers of An Inconvenient Truth. (Later that night, it scored the Documentary Film award.) They were nice enough to stop and talk about the importance of getting involved in the political process and acting now to stop global warming. I told them that every celebrity I’d talked to that night had cited their film as one of their main environmental inspirations. Unfortunately, a technological glitch on my digital recorder (aka my finger) erased my entire conversation with them. (Sorry, guys.) But I do remember this much: The DVD hits stores on November 21.
“Tell her about the goats,” said Bass.
“Um, goats?” I asked.
“Instead of having the brush cleared away at our house with lawnmowers,” said Reichen, “there’s rental goats. They tie them in your yard and they eat all the brush on the hill to stop the forest fires. When the goats are full and the brush is gone, the goats are taken away.”
Interesting. I wonder if they have a franchise in Santa Barbara.
And the Winners Are …
EMA Futures Award: Maroon 5
EMA Missions in Music Award: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Feature Film: Ice Age: The Meltdown
Documentary Film: An Inconvenient Truth
TV Episodic Drama: Boston Legal, “Finding Nimmo”
TV Episodic Comedy: The Simpsons, “The Bonfire Of The Manatees”
Children’s Animated Television: The Wonder Pets, “Save The Tree”
Children’s Live Action Television: Darcy’s Wild Life, “Trash Talk”
Reality Television: MTV’s Break The Addiction: An Inconvenient Truth
Turner Award (for the TV episode best dealing with the issue of population growth): Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, “Rockabye“