25 VIPs expected to arrive in the fuel-efficient cars
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
(Mar. 4) -- Oscar nominees Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and Frances McDormand are among those expected to step out of green vehicles and onto the red carpet at the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday.
In all, 25 VIPs are participating in the fourth annual "Red Carpet, Green Cars" event sponsored by Toyota Motor Corp. and the environmental organization Global Green USA. McDormand, Phoenix, Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney are all expected to arrive at the Oscars in Toyota or Lexus hybrids, including the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX crossover and a hybrid version of the Toyota Camry, which goes on sale in May.
Event spokeswoman Kathy Kniss said the program began with just four participants in 2002, but interest in fuel-efficient vehicles has grown exponentially since then.
"There's a huge, huge following. People are flocking to the hybrids," Kniss said.
Other automakers are also getting into the act. Ford Motor Co. said Cathy Schulman, the producer of best-picture nominee "Crash," plans to arrive in a hybrid Mercury Mariner, while best-supporting-actor nominee Gyllenhaal's entourage is scheduled to show up in a Ford Excursion powered by clean-burning biodiesel.
General Motors Corp. also will be bringing VIPs to the ceremony, but its focus will be on luxury rather than fuel efficiency. GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said a fleet of 50 Cadillacs mostly 2007 Escalade SUVs will be used to pick up and drop off celebrities. Carney said the automaker also will run ads during the broadcast featuring GM's two other luxury brands, Hummer and Saab.