Hollywood Environmentalist Targets Middle America
LOS ANGELES Hollywood environmentalist Laurie David's fight to convince America of the dangers of global warming begins in her own bathrooms.
David, producer of Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth," is taking her crusade to Middle America and Washington next year, setting her sights on convincing President Bush and average U.S. citizens to make changes to safeguard the planet.
But first she had to deal with her preteen daughter, who stole toilet paper from friends, and comedian husband Larry David, a creator of "Seinfeld" and HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," who rebelled when she switched to toilet tissue made from recycled consumer waste.
"I had a contest to see who in my family would complain first ... it was the husband, who complained bitterly," David said in an interview with Reuters last week.
David, 48, has overcome bigger obstacles, like convincing a reluctant Hollywood that there was wide interest, and money to be made, in "An Inconvenient Truth," a film about former vice president Gore's slide show on global warming.
The unlikely box-office hit was the third-largest grossing documentary of all time and is on the short list for an Academy Award nomination. The DVD version goes on sale this week.
While admitting to being nervous about Oscar season, David is moving on to her next headline event to "kick up the dirt" in mid-America and the nation's capital with one of the biggest names in music.
"Sheryl Crow and I are going to go out on her biodiesel tour bus, starting in Texas, and invite friends to join us on various stops," said David, speaking in the garden outside her Los Angeles-area home office overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
"We really want to go to places where people are not talking about these issues as much as they should be."
During 10 days in April, the two women will drive to Washington, D.C., for Earth Day, where she hopes some of her 525,000 virtual marchers -- people who have signed on to her Web site -- will join them in person.
"There is a window closing here," said David, citing experts like NASA climatologist James Hansen who say the world has 10 years to take action against global warming or face widespread climate disaster.
"If they say nine years or 10 years, I am thinking maybe it is five years because scientists are the most cautious people on the planet," David said.
GORE IN 2008?
Despite having spent most of her adult life around comedians as a talent manager and comedy producer, David can be awfully serious, especially when talking about the lack of leadership in Washington.
"The rest of the world is so much more engaged on this issue than the United States," she said. "We're the biggest cause of global warming pollution now and we are doing the least about it and that is not acceptable."
But she sees hope after the Democrats won control of Congress in the midterm elections and vowed to make the environment a priority.
"Action on global warming has to happen while the Bush administration is still in office," David said. "I am not waiting for 2008."
But looking toward the next elections, she said she would do anything to get Gore to make another run at the presidency after he was edged out by Bush in 2000.
"He's not planning on it for the moment but it would be one of my dreams to see him run for president again," David said.
Even with the shift in political power, David said her goal is unchanged: "To permeate popular culture in every way I can to get people to wake up to what is going on."
She believes Hollywood is doing an admirable job on fighting global warming, from studios like Warner Bros going green to celebrities like Leonardo di Caprio embracing the hybrid cars her family has been driving for years.
And what is Larry David's role in his wife's crusade? Well, he drives a hybrid on his HBO show, funds some of her activities and, perhaps most importantly, keeps her laughing.
"It is a bit of burden to feel like we have this giant problem and I personally feel like I have to do something about it," she said.
"If you can be married to a comedian, that's a good start."