Hollywood loves the Internet

It should come as no surprise to know that television actors, with their disposable incomes and plenty of time waiting between scenes, have laptops and iPods and use them every day. What I haven’t heard a lot about are the sites they visit and what they listen to on their iPods.

When CBS arranged for me to fly to Los Angeles in September and talk with a majority of the cast from their TV shows for a series of podcasts at CBS.com/Netcast, I made it a mandatory question that they should reveal how they use the Internet. Most of the actors I met and interviewed knew what I meant when I asked about their ‘surfing habits’ — although I now know that Eric Close from “Without a Trace” also likes to actually surf near San Diego. Stars such as Jon Cryer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Charles Dutton, Paula Marshall, Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Jami Gerz told me they look at Web sites for information about horse breeding, help with new babies, fan sites, and even porn.

Here are a few excerpts from our conversations:

Jonathan Togo [Ryan Wolfe, CSI: Miami]: I love the Internet. It’s funny how it’s almost steadily replaced my TV-watching. But I also like to think that twenty years from now when I have children, they’re going to say, “You used to have to type in the Web address?” I’ll be like, “Yes, Billy, and then I’d have to wait for it to download. If you didn’t have Real Player, you couldn’t watch.” I download music, definitely. For awhile, I was illegally downloading — I’m outing myself as an illegal downloader — but my girlfriend is vehemently against it, so I decided I’m going to start paying for music on iTunes. The beautiful thing about the Internet is if you have even the tiniest spark of interest in some sort of sub cultural thing — I love bicycles. I’m a cyclist so I ride my bike a lot. I look at bikes endlessly on the Internet. I’m always looking at bicycles. That’s what I do. I have all my Web sites I go to and I also have a lot of friends with blogs, so I read a lot of blogs. I don’t even have my own Web site. A lot of my friends have their Web sites with their headshots and resume. I know the show has its own fan site. I’ve looked, I admit it — it’s such a dirty secret, but I’m sure everyone looks at it. When I first got on [CSI: Miami], I did an interview with the fan Web site, so I took a gander. It gets everyone who is a fan of something — in this case, CSI or CSI: Miami or the franchise — and it mobilizes them and they discuss the show and write fan fiction about the show. That’s great! These virtual communities are great. I always lived with guys who were HTML programmers. When I graduated from college in ‘99, all my friends were getting these great jobs writing html, working at Boo.com — which was a spectacular failure.

Rob Morrow [Don Eppes, Numbers]: I’m a fan of podcasting. I’m listening to one — The History of Philosophy in 50 one-hour lectures, so I’ve been working my way through it. It informs my work and my writing — it’s just study.

Jeff Probst [host, Survivor]: We always have Internet access. We build a world. For instance, in Guatemala, we literally dropped down in a piece of empty land that had nothing — I’m talking nothing, it’s just land — and built a world that includes satellites, Internet, cell phones. I’m logged on all the time. In fact, I listen to podcasts. I was listening to a couple of interviews with filmmakers when I was on location. I was listening to Elvis Mitchell doing some interviews with filmmakers on KCRW. I also subscribe to MLB.com (Major League Baseball). I listen to them so it makes me feel like I’m at home. If I hear the Seattle Mariners and I hear Dave Niehaus — because I’m a Mariner fan — then its like “Hey, low ball two.”

Jason Segel [Marshall How I Met Your Mother]: I love the technology. I download as much Van Morrison as I can get my hands on. I’m a big Mac guy. I love the iTunes. I’m always on the Mac Rumors site [www.macrumors.com], which is terribly dorky, but I must say, I love it. I have all the speculations about what’s going to happen over the next few months, Macintosh-wise. Mac — if you want to send me anything free, get in touch with CBS!

To hear Dana Greenlee’s full audio interviews with thirty-five actors from CBS series, visit www.CBS.com/Netcast.