Recovered Shooting Victim and Reformed Oil Tycoon Goes Green


From the Street…

The question will no longer be, “Who shot J.R.” but “Where’d J.R. get those photovoltaic panels for his roof?” Which is almost as catchy.

Larry Hagman is reprising his role as J.R. Ewing from the soap opera Dallas on behalf of the solar industry. The dastardly Texas oilman who famously spent a summer nursing a bullet wound (while audiences spent it thinking about his fate with bated breath) has become disillusioned with Texas tea. Here he is in an advertising campaign to promote solar energy and SolarWorld, a German photovoltaic module maker.

“In the past it was always about the oil,” Hagman says in a TV commercial that debuted yesterday at the Intersolar conference in San Francisco.

“The oil was flowing and so was the money. Too dirty, I quit it years ago,” he says in a voice so gravelly you could walk across it. A portrait of a beaming, much younger J.R. from his wilder days in the 80s fades out of focus, with the subtlety of the Picture of Dorian Gray. Images of an offshore oil rig and blackened waters flash against the backdrop of his sullied memories.

“Shine, baby shine,” he guffaws. The line is a direct jab at Sarah Palin’s “Drill, baby, drill” campaign slogan.

Before the rolling of eyes ensues, it’s worth noting that Hagman lives on an estate in the Southern California town of Ojai which he outfitted with an elaborate 94-kilowatt solar system, thought to be the largest residential solar panel installation in the world, several years ago. He also serves on the board of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a non-profit that builds solar systems in poverty-stricken areas of the world and was awarded additional funding by the ExxonMobil and Ashoka’s Changemakers Women | Tools | Technology Challenge campaign on June 29.

SolarWorld donated solar panels for the group’s work in Haiti after the earthquake there in January. Yesterday the company said it would give an additional 100 kilowatts worth of panels to provide electricity for at least five health clinics.

The commercial will air nationally in August and can be found on SolarWorld’s site here.

SolarWorld, which is based in Germany but operates factories in California and Oregon, is just the latest of a number of solar companies to introduce a high-profile advertising campaign.

So what’s your opinion? Do you respond well to the idea of a fictional oil baron going rogue in favor of the green movement? Does it draw the right kind of attention to the cause? Is it a clever move or completely out of touch? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in Christopher Correa’s weekly column, Hill/Street Greens, examining the environmental deeds (and misdeeds) of Washington, D.C. and Wall Street.

Image: AP