Green Project Runway, eco country music, and saving pandas

Actress Natalie Portman strutted down the catwalk on Bravo’s Project Runway last week to judge season five’s second episode, “The Grass is Always Greener.” The contestants’ were challenged to design outfits with eco-friendly fabrics. The winning cocktail dress was created by Suede, an ironic name considering Portman’s vegan shoe collection for Te Casan. The show repeats before this week’s episode on Wednesday at 9 pm ET.

Songstress Kathy Mattea has just released a powerful album, titled Coal. The West Virginian whose grandfathers were miners is also an environmentalist and trained as one of Al Gore’s 1000 “Climate Presenters.” In her album, she expresses her concern over strip mines raping the countryside, burning coal’s effect on global warming, and the safety of miners. Mattea recently attended the first National Summit on the Arts and Environment in McLean, VA, hosted by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Americans for the Arts, and The Aspen Institute. It plans on forming a National Council on the Arts and Environment to encourage audiences to go green as well as ensure artists’ green practices backstage.

It’s kind of a far cry from “Wake up America," an eco-ish anthem on Miley Cyrus’ latest album, Breakout, which contains lame lines like “It's not a fire drill!” Okay, so it’s for 12-year-olds, but they’re not total greenhorns about the environment. And other country music no-so-greenery: A scheduling conflict between the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith (at odds since the group voiced their displeasure with President G.W. Bush) is supposedly preventing the acts from getting together as an Unlikely Alliance for the WE (We Can Solve it) campaign with Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection.

Comedian Ben Stiller, starring in Tropic Thunder with Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr., posted a website for his character in the war satire, Tugg Speedman (a send-up of Tom Cruise). One of the links on Tugg’s site, “My Favorite Charity”, features the Panda Relocation Foundation with Tugg holding a cute cub, stating, “Their survival is not so black & white." Some tongue-in-cheek copy for this faux non-profit includes facts and figures about the species, seriously endangered by habitat loss and poaching. Wondering, does contacting his Adopt-a-Panda “charity” via e-mail actually connect you to the World Wildlife Fund or some other real cause for pandas, who have been affected by China's recent earthquake? Or is Stiller having some Tuggs at our legs?

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