Super-producer Lawrence Bender has long been a champion of many causes and personal passions, from the environment to politics to the protection of wildlife.
But as the event co-chair for the UCLA IoES Gala, Seaco2 Change, Bender is standing shoulder to shoulder with Keely Shaye Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan, Van Jones and other luminaries who are on the cusp of making a tremendous difference.
Today, at the tony Beverly Hills Home of Jeanne and Anthony “Tony” Pritzker, celebrities, philanthropists and others will gather to honor journalist and film director Keely Shaye Brosnan and her actor husband, Pierce Brosnan, for their work directing and executive producing the documentary, Poisoning Paradise.
The film shines a bright, unwavering light on Native Hawaiians facing the dangerous destruction of their island paradise, due to pesticides and experimental agricultural chemicals. On the island of Kauai, where these natives live down-wind from dangerous chemicals, residents struggle to enact meaningful regulation to curb the routine poisoning of land, crops and more by some of the world’s largest biotech companies.
Van Jones, CNN’s flagship commentator, will also be honored at the event, for his work as founder and president of Green For All, a charity set on building a green economy for people in the poorest, most polluted communities in America.
Jones will also be honored for his work as founder of Dream Corps, Green for All’s parent charity, where he helps lead initiatives designed to transform the criminal justice system, increase opportunity for minorities via the tech sector, and build a nation where everyone matters. Ultimately, Dream Corps was created to reduce prison populations, extend opportunities to women and men — of all backgrounds — in the tech world, and use education, action, and love to stand up to hate.
Lawrence Bender, who has produced a vast slate of critically lauded films ranging from Good Will Hunting to Pulp Fiction to An Inconvenient Truth, spends an extraordinary amount of time working for the greater good, from throwing fundraisers to sitting on major philanthropic boards. And he is so enmeshed in environmental causes, that he was honored as a “Wildlife Hero” by the National Wildlife Foundation.
With Keely Shaye and Pierce Brosnan by his side, Bender is in good company.
Beyond Poisoning Paradise, the pair have long been tireless champions for clean water, clean air, wetland and marine mammal protection. The pair isn’t afraid to work at a grassroots level, opposing environmentally questionable or unsound projects including the Cabrillo Port Liquefied Natural Gas facility, planned for the coast of Malibu.
Beyond environmental causes, Bender is a proud executive producer of the reboot and re-imagining of the popular CW 1990s to early 2000s show Roswell. This new version covers the lives of a woman who learns that the person she crushed on in high school is secretly an extraterrestrial.
The show has added a twist to the early version, as the lead female’s parents are undocumented immigrants from Mexico.
Roswell also features a number of Latino actors and actresses, and is part of a growing slate of shows with casts that reflect the changing face of America. Lawrence Bender and crew are on the leading edge of this trend, which no doubt will last beyond these next few years as audiences demand that their beloved shows represent the same faces in their communities.
Bender has played a pivotal role in reshaping the ethnic face of television, but also putting forth award-winning shows. In an interview for Thrillest, he waxed poetically about what is now considered to be the golden age of television.
“It’s a really exciting time to be in TV. In the last four or five years, things have changed dramatically. The storytelling has changed,” Bender said. “There’s more room for darkness, for exploring uncharted territory.”
The team at Roswell, we’re certain, will agree.