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Stars to catch ‘green’ rides to the red carpet

- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

There will be plenty of glitter and gold, but this year the Oscars will be green.

Hollywood A-listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman will be shuttled to the Academy Awards today in electric sports cars and plug-in hybrids, and the line of limousines waiting their turn to drop stars off at the event will idle on cleaner fuels than ever before.

Staffers who know details of the ceremony were tight-lipped all week, but some Tinseltown insiders have hinted there may be an announcement during the show about just how environmentally friendly the awards are.

"An Inconvenient Truth," former Vice President Al Gore's film about global warming, is favored to win the Best Documentary Feature category. It is also in the running for Best Original Song, with Melissa Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up" nabbing the nomination.

Mr. Gore's name would not be on the Oscar statuette should he win. The honor would officially go to producers Lawrence Bender and Laurie David, and director Davis Guggenheim. Should they win, Mr. Gore would join them on stage for a short thank you, according to press reports.

But sources said the Democrat plans to make news today during the first half of the awards program regardless of whether his film is recognized.

An official Oscar spokeswoman would not comment about whether Mr. Gore will be part of the program, and she wouldn't budge on the secrecy surrounding the eco-friendly Oscar rumors. She would only say environmental awareness was "taken into consideration."

Global Green USA is campaigning to escort the Hollywood elite to the event, with stars arriving in hybrids and electric cars to turn the entrance into a symbolic green carpet.

"By arriving in fuel-efficient green vehicles instead of gas-guzzling limousines, celebrities are helping showcase smart solutions to global warming -- what we drive, as well as how we live," said Matt Peterson, president of the environmental group.

Among the celebrities planning to ride in eco-style is Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, who said, "It's urgent that we all take steps in our lives to reduce our impact on the environment."

"Global warming is threatening us all," said Penelope Cruz, a Best Actress nominee who will show up in an eco-friendly car. "Fortunately, there are many simple things we can all do such as driving greener cars or changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs, which can dramatically save energy and reduce global-warming pollution."

Mr. Gore and his wife, Tipper, also will use eco-friendly transportation through the Global Green program, along with Miss Etheridge and Best Actor nominee Forest Whittaker.

Among the cars is the electric Tesla Roadster (with a six-figure price tag and a waiting list of more than 300), a plug-in Toyota Prius that boasts 100 miles per gallon of gas and one that runs on natural gas.

But the real talk will be whether winning an Oscar might help fuel a political comeback for Mr. Gore, still a Democratic favorite who won the 2000 popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush.

At a recent star-studded gathering to raise cash for his presidential bid, Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, lauded Mr. Gore's documentary.

What was once an "obscure" debate over global warming "suddenly is in everyone's living room ... and suddenly transforming the conversation," Mr. Obama told the crowd, which included Mr. Bender.

When the nominations were announced last month, Mr. Gore said he was "thrilled," adding: "This film proves that movies really can make a difference."

The former vice president, the target of several groups that want him to make a second bid for the White House, also is planning a massive concert series this July on seven continents to highlight what he calls the "climate crisis."

Mr. Gore stars in the film that is based on his slideshow presentations about climate change. The film is the third highest-grossing documentary in U.S. history with more than $24 million in ticket sales and a hot spot on DVD charts.

He's also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

"An Inconvenient Truth" is competing tonight with these documentaries: "Deliver Us from Evil," about a Catholic priest who sexually abused children; "Jesus Camp," about evangelical Christians; and two films about the Iraq war, "Iraq in Fragments" and "My Country, My Country."

Mr. and Mrs. Gore will appear at the hottest tickets in town after the awards -- the Vanity Fair party and the swanky Governor's Ball.