Appian Way going green with 'E-topia'


Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way has joined up with Pilgrim Films and Television and Madison Road Entertainment to produce a reality series focusing on the environment.

"E-topia," described a response to concerns about global warming that is designed to educate and entertain viewers, will chronicle the eco-friendly reconstruction of an American town as it is transformed into a " 'green' utopia of tomorrow." The project, being shopped to broadcast networks, will document the monthslong endeavor in a town yet to be determined as teams of construction workers and laborers unaccustomed to the demands of a "green" lifestyle work with passionate eco-idealists, planners and architects.

Pilgrim's Craig Piligian (CBS' "Survivor") said he hadn't worked with DiCaprio before but had believed he would be the perfect partner in the project because of his "passion for ecology and global warming." So he and MRE's Tom Mazza (NBC's "Treasure Hunters") approached DiCaprio with the idea -- Piligian said they waited six months until DiCaprio had finished shooting the upcoming feature "Blood Diamond" in Africa because "he was the only one we wanted to talk to" -- and were met with a positive response from the actor, who will serve as co-creator and executive producer along with Piligian and Mazza.

Piligian added that the idea of doing a project "that had community in it, something with purpose and reason," really took off after the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina last year and the global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," featuring Al Gore, "struck a chord" with filmgoers.

"We're going to take a devastated community and help transform it as a prototype for the future," Piligian said. "At the end of the day, we're all going to have to change the way we live, the way we burn and use fuel. ... We're trying to show the country and the world by example, town by town by town, how we can change the way we live and fight global warming."

In addition, each episode is designed to have a "call to action," directing viewers to a Web site where they can learn more about ecology and find out how to participate in environmental initiatives.

Mazza added that the project has already attracted interest among sponsors but didn't give specific examples.

"This show is obviously very expensive, and there are a number of major advertisers who have expressed strong interest in 'E-topia' for both integrated and promotional partnerships," he said. "We plan to evaluate all opportunities once we have our network partner on board."

The project is repped by Endeavor.