Hollywood eagerly embraces environmental cause

Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:45am EDT
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By Stephen Galloway

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In the early 1990s, some 100 environmental activists stormed an Indonesian freighter bringing rain forest wood to the major studios.

"We pulled up in a small Zodiac," recalls Atossa Soltani, now executive director of Amazon Watch. "People used climbing equipment to rappel up the side of the ship and unfurled a huge banner that said, 'Rainforest Wood Out of Hollywood."'

That scene now seems like ancient history.

Studios that once ignored green demands now have flotillas of staff catering to them. Actors, agents and executives who formerly made indulgence their mantra are among the leading environmental activists. And the watchdog groups that once hounded the industry are increasingly singling it out as a relative do-gooder.

But is Hollywood doing enough good? Is the industry -- and above all, are the studios that are central to it -- truly doing everything it can?

Richard Turco, a professor at UCLA who co-authored a controversial study two years ago lambasting Hollywood's environmental activities, points to the sheer waste that takes place on most film sets, along with the excessive use of polluting fuels.

"Obviously, there is a move by the industry toward greener practices," Turco says. "But they have not thrown out their old diesel generators. It is an industry; it still uses huge amounts of material."

Even some who praise the studios say they could be doing more. "More people could be using biodiesel generators on their honey wagons (mobile bathrooms) and their sets," says Lauren Selman, who runs Reel Green Media, a company that helps productions go green. "More sets could be recycled, more (productions) could be offering healthier foods."   Continued...

<p>Tourists pause on a walkway at a shopping mall which offers a view of the famed Hollywood sign at the hills in California March 14, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>