By David Bauder
AP Television Writer
Producers of a Showtime series on global warming due this spring said Thursday it was crucial to get celebrities and Republicans involved to spread the stories beyond people who already believe it’s an important issue.
The series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” begins April 13.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who was in Pasadena to promote the series, is among the celebrities who travel to different sites to illustrate the impact of climate change. Matt Damon, Jessica Alba and Don Cheadle also participate.
“We want to break down the tribalism on this issue,” said David Gelber, a former “60 Minutes” producer who is helping make the series. “You ask people what they think about climate change and they say, ‘I don’t like Al Gore.’”
Along with Schwarzenegger, Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., is involved talking about the impact of Superstorm Sandy on his district. Schwarzenegger talks about the impact of wildfires, an important issue in California and other western states.
Gelber initially wanted to make a movie on climate change and met with veteran Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub, who steered him to television and helped open doors in his world.
“Scientists will never get the attention that someone in show business will,” Weintraub said.
The celebrities involved need to be passionate about the issues and able to ask smart questions, he said. “We didn’t choose any actor just to have an actor,” he said.
The former governor campaigned to promote physical fitness before he turned to politics, and said he wanted to make global warming a second crusade. People supporting climate change haven’t done well communicating the importance of the issue, unlike past causes such as civil rights.
“It can only be successful if it is simple and clear and we make it a human story,” he said.
Even if national governments move slowly on protecting the environment, local and state governments, corporations and the public can all play a role, he said.
The series will run for about eight or 10 episodes, Gelber said. Although the series is being shown on a pay-cable network, one of its participants, “The Vampire Diaries” actor Ian Somerhalder, said he and other celebrities will try to spread its message through social media.