BRAD PITT IS IN NEW ORLEANS! BRAD PITT IS IN NEW ORLEANS!
OMG! BRAD!!! PITT!!! NEW! ORLEANS!!!!!!
Such was the breathless, teenage girl-cadenced cry of the tabloids this week, as the Bran half of Brangelina rolled down south into the Big Easy. Numerous media outlets — from People to the Associated Press — covered the trip, publishing articles and photos of the "Fight Club" and Oceans Thirteen" star in New Orleans.
Was he partying in the French Quarter? Hanging out in the home he owns there? Reading Anne Rice books?
Nope. Pitt was in New Orleans on Tuesday touring a newly constructed green home (along with the "Today Show") in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward.
The home was based on a winning design from a contest Pitt and the environmental organization Global Green USA created to encourage post Hurricane Katrina construction, AP reported.
The house features sustainable elements such as walls treated with a nontoxic mold and termite repellant, solar panels and energy-saving appliances, which were added in part to lower residents’ electric and water bills. (Electric bills will be reduced by 75 percent and water will be cut 50 percent, according to Brad.)
It may not sound like the most wild New Orleans vacation, but Pitt’s passion for architecture and building is well documented — he’s a fan of Frank Gehry in particular (photographers caught him shooting photos of the Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum in Spain earlier this summer on a trip the media wasn’t invited to.).
In March 2005, Pitt appeared with Gehry at a forum in which it was announced he would be involved with Gehry’s downtown LA revamp group, the Guardian reported. Pitt is also rumored to be involved in Gehry’s UK redevelopment of the Hove seafront.
So perhaps Pitt’s recent contest, tour and general green design support doesn’t come as a huge surprise — but lending some star power to the effort is undoubtedly appreciated. His trip to the construction site last week generated dozens of media articles about his presence — and, in turn, the green design elements the new home features. Clever.
Celebs are often criticized for jumping on the cause bandwagon for press or other questionable reasons, but Pitt’s green passion seems to run much deeper. (There’s some "A River Runs Through It" joke in there, but we can’t find it.)
And he isn’t the only member of the Hollywood elite to say yes to going green.
Other high-power stars are finding that promoting green principles — either through practice, in media projects or through other platforms — is helping to bring widespread recognition of the benefits and need for sustainability.
And the list of sustainable stars might surprise you. Other celebs who are green fans include:
• Former X-Files star David Duchovny has a solar-energy powered home, according to ecorazzi.com.
• Robert Redford, a long-time environmental and outdoor conservation supporter, in April committed three hours a week of eco-programming on his Sundance channel, Grist reports.
• Julia Louis-Dreyfus owns a green home; she and her husband renovated their Santa Barbara bungalow into a green design showroom, featuring rooftop solar panels, a natural ventilation system and insulation made of recycled newspaper, Grist reported.
• Alanis Morissette heats her pool with solar panels, GreenBuilding.com reports.
• And forget the Malibu beach house or designer sunglasses: The current Hollywood must-have is the electric car. Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz are just two of the celebs who have had them for years. (Leonardo is, of course, a very vocal supporter of all environmental causes, and recently finished a documentary about the subject.)
People may groan when Oscar acceptance speeches turn into social diatribes (and often, I’m one of them — I want tears, many tears, maybe with a touch of joyful hysteria), and there is reason to question why any public figure — actor, musician or otherwise — without background in a subject suddenly becomes any cause’s biggest fan.
But we’re looking at a society (Hollywood) in which money abounds and needs are constantly catered to (how many people do you see daily who have one or two personal assistants to help them organize their life — especially when that life involves months off at a time?).
In that crazy, decadent, fun society, sacrifice usually isn’t a word that comes into play often. (Which is why we love to read those gossip mags so much.) It’s LA — I’ve lived there. People will drive a block in their car because it’s easier than walking. Almost every commercial building has valet parking as a result; and heat lamps, so you don’t have to suffer a moment of discomfort should the temperature dip below 70 degrees while you wait for the valet to bring you your car back. (Because NOBODY should have to suffer that kind of indignity!)
So it is admirable to see that some major Hollywood stars have forgone Bentleys for a Prius, opted to emphasize homes with solar panels over infinity pools and, most of all, put their schedule where their mouth is and dedicated time to promoting green design. It’s a trend that will, with luck, continue.
Now, if we could only get more of them to scrap the personal jets …