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Posted at 11:34 AM ET, 06/17/2010

The oil spill: Hollywood weighs in

By Jen Chaney

Members of a House committee are lobbing tough questions today at BP CEO Tony Hayward. (Am I the only one, by the way, who totally thinks that guy should be played by Michael Sheen in the inevitable HBO movie about this disaster?)

But representatives in Congress aren't the only high-profile people with something to say about the massive oil spill and its impact on the Gulf Coast. Members of the Hollywood community have been jumping into the fray with increasing frequency as the leak that can't be plugged continues to spew more black goop.

Kevin Costner has already sold some of his oil-separating machines to BP with the hope that they can help clean-up some of the mess. James Cameron also convened a brainstorming session here in D.C. earlier this month, drawing on his years of expertise with underwater technology in the hope of finding a solution to the crisis. (So did anybody suggest that the best way to staunch this thing is to plug the leak with all those unnecessary "Avatar" DVDs, the ones that came with no extras? No? Didn't come up?)

More famous names with something to say on the matter:

During an appearance earlier this week on "The Late Show With David Letterman," Helen Mirren confessed to her embarrassment over BP's handling of the matter, noting that the company's initials stand for: "bloody p---poor." Strong language from an actual Dame.

"Lost" showrunner Damon Lindelof ceased his self-imposed post-finale radio silence long enough to write a Hollywood-action-style solution to the oil spill on Esquire's Web site. His proposal can be summed up with the term: "reverse-Armageddon." (Warning: Lindelof's piece contains some strong language, for those of you who are sensitive about the curse words.) Stephen King must have been on the same wavelength; his column in the most recent edition of Entertainment Weekly (unfortunately King's column wasn't posted online) notes the parallels between the plot of "Armageddon" and what's happening in the Gulf. Apparently Bruce Willis is the key to this whole mess.

Meanwhile, "Vampire Diaries" star, "Lost" alum and Louisiana native Ian Somerhalder has headed down to the Gulf to assist with relief efforts. According to E!'s Kristin dos Santos, he's a little disappointed that more people in Hollywood aren't actively trying to help: "Coming from the entertainment world, I'm really shaken by how quiet Hollywood is ... And I say that out of respect for my peers and colleagues, but I'm really bummed that no one is really coming up to help the situation. I think a telethon is a good way to funnel money into these channels ... We need to set one of those things up to really paint a picture of exactly how much devastation is here." He speaks in more detail in this video:

Do you agree with Somerhalder, that more people -- including celebs -- need to step up and get involved? Or should the stars mind their own movie business and leave the oil-spill solutions to the (cough) experts?

By Jen Chaney  | June 17, 2010; 11:34 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  | Tags:  Celebrities, Celebrity Causes  
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Comments

The Queen knew Dame Helen had a potty mouth before she made her a Dame.

Has Angelina taken a position on the Gulf?

Bruce Willis is all well and good, but let's not forget the possible "Spongebob" solution.

Posted by: reddragon1 | June 17, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Why would anyone care what Hollywood ACTORS think? Name one that has a degree that is relevant. For that matter name on that has a degree at all that isn't acting. The only thing these rubes have is tons of money and tons of time. If I was an actor that "worked" on 2-3 movies a year, I'd have plenty of time to weigh in too. No one cares what these script readers think. Go back to Hollywood or make a documentary about it.

Posted by: Bailers | June 17, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Members of the Hollywood community have been jumping into the fray with increasing frequency as the leak that can't be plugged continues to spew more black goop.

Will they be tackling Gwynnie's blog next?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 17, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Bailers, you might as well ask why people care what folks like Limbaugh, Beck, or Olbermann think. None of them have backgrounds in politics, yet they are all taken super-seriously by their "sides" as well as by people who report on opinion and news.

Anyway, I'm with Somerhalder. The MSM has been pretty useless on this disaster, but people watch telethons. It's probably the best way to educate people and disseminate useful information.

Posted by: dkp01 | June 17, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

On a more serious note, moviemakers who've made films re the water, like Costner and Cameron, and their technical teams may have some actual knowledge re hydrotechnology, so shouldn't be dismissed peremptorily just for being in show biz.

BTW, Dame Helen has apparently gotten lambasted by the British press and public (the other BPs?) on grounds her comments are disloyal to her country. (Well, imagine if it were instead a US oil company that had fouled Britain's coastline and some American actor went on British TV and condemned the US oil company.)

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 17, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"name on[e] that has a degree at all that isn't acting"

Jodie Foster
Brooke Sheilds
Danica McKellar
Mayim Bialik

Posted by: talleyl | June 17, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I totally think "Michael Sheen" whenever I see Tony Hayward...

Posted by: stella117 | June 17, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Ian Somerhalder's quest is admirable. Why wouldn't the Hollywood elite help with a telethon to help raise money for the Gulf Coast? Anything that can be done right now will be helpful in saving the wildlife & assist the people that have been economically affected by this disaster. As American citizens we should all rise to the occasion and help our neighbors. Thank you Ian Somerhalder for your tireless effort in helping your home state. We love you!

Posted by: GeorgiaPeach2 | June 17, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Bailer, both Cameron and Costner are definitely in a position to talk about and get involved with this, despite their Hollywood credentials. Costner owns a company with relevant technology; Cameron owns some serious deep water hardware and works with the leading experts for working that equipment at outrageous depths. This isn't posturing.

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | June 17, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Pixar could plug the leak with DMCA takedown notices...

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | June 17, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I can't get to the Ian Somerholder video, but I think he has a point.

Hollywood loves to step in when there are people to be rescued. It's all about the human drama and the photo op.

No great photo ops here - the oil covered pelican is always gonna win. And as a friend of mine who hails from Gulf-coastal Mississippi has been fond of saying, no one ever cared before when smaller oil spills gunked up the beaches because it was just some white trash who couldn't go paddle around in the water anymore.

Also, I do quite wonder how much oil money goes to Hollywood on the QT. Haiti isn't a shareholder or supporter, you have to wonder if BP is.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | June 17, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and yeah...I think James Cameron can be royally unsufferable, but I will also concede that he has spent a significant time working with engineers to solve underwater engineering problems.

Between "The Abyss", "Titanic" and "Ghosts of the Abyss", his productions actually did figure out some things to do with cameras underwater. He may not have a science degree, but I didn't think contacting him for a brainstorming session was a bad idea. I'm not saying he could single-handedly handle the clean up, but in an unprecedented situation like this one, why the hell not?

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | June 17, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

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