Anyone who sneaks a guilty peek at Access Hollywood or Extra after dinner knows that it is officially Party Week in Hollywood. Everybody and her over-pedigreed dog is in town, boozing and schmoozing it up before the Academy Awards on Sunday. So when I scored an invite to the Global Green pre-Oscar party, I was pretty pumped.
This is the third year the organization has thrown the blowout, complete with a plethora of hybrids and alternative energy vehicles in the parking lot, chic sustainable building materials on display inside, and a long list of big names in attendance. Among the biggest: Petra Nemcova and James Blunt, Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson, Orlando Bloom and his new spiky haircut, and Oscar nominees and event co-chairs Leonardo DiCaprio and Penelope Cruz.
Unfortunately, I and the rest of the print media were stationed in front of the fans on the street and after a looong line of photographers. So many of the stars didn’t stop to chat, either because they were suffering from sheer media fatigue or because they mistook us for a gaggle of screaming autograph seekers. (I’m sure my shrill cries of “Orlando! I want to ask you about the environment!” didn’t help.)
Sweetheart and dedicated co-host that she is, Penelope did make it over to our end of the green carpet for a few minutes. Obviously, this is a busy week for her. Why take time out of her pre-Oscar primp schedule to attend a global-warming benefit? “Anything that will remind people about how big this problem is and how global warming is a reality,” she said. “We don’t take it seriously, and we are already paying the consequences of not taking it seriously.”
She also shared a few of her favorite energy-saving tips: “You can change your car to a hybrid car,” she said. “And you can change the lightbulbs in your house to the ones that spend 50 percent less energy than the normal ones.”
Someone who seems to be taking Penelope’s advice to heart is Andrea Bowen (of Desperate Housewives) who just got her driver’s license and is shopping for her first car. Will it be a hybrid? “I’m planning on it,” said Andrea. “There are so many choices and they’re all cute.”
Obviously, not everyone (read: me) can afford a brand-new Prius. So what can the less financially fortunate among us do to make a difference?
“There are so many local issues that make an impact globally,” said Bahar Soomekh (of Crash and Daybreak). “Get involved locally in an environmental issue.”
Since Bahar spent her pre-acting life in the trenches as an environmental education teacher, I had to ask her the question that’s been on my mind lately: Can celebrity activism actually change public behavior?
“Sometimes I feel like, unfortunately, people roll their eyes over celebrities involved with another cause,” she said. “But if people are interested in it because you said something, then we can just help bring awareness to it.”
Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA, echoed that sentiment. “The Oscars is one of the most highly watched events around the world, and we want to use that lens to shine the light on environmental challenges and their solutions.”
“Celebrities can obviously break through the media clutter. You can see right here,” he said, gesturing toward the clawing mass of photographers and camera crews behind him, “how many people have come out for these individuals. Celebrities are smart enough to know that they can make a difference through shining the light on solutions, as well as the science.”
One way that the organization helps stars do just that is by encouraging them to take hybrids and alternative-energy vehicles to the Oscars instead of limos. (This year, a lucky luminary is even going to show up in the electric Tesla Roadster.)
The goal, Petersen says, is to change the way celebrities — and eventually, Americans — think of cars as status symbols. When I asked him for a little celebrity gossip, he told me Jake Gyllenhaal had just bought a Camry hybrid.
“Did you show up in a hybrid or not?” he imagined the celeb of the future asking. “Well, you’re a loser if you show up in a Cadillac Escalade.”
Three cheers to that.