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Further Phoenix
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Rain Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix, Leaf Phoenix

Liberty Phoenix

Summer Phoenix

New York

Diet For A New America

John Robbins

Environment, Environmental Concerns, Green, Green Issues

The Donahue Show

Earth Day Benefit

Raul Julia

Lisa Bonet

Phil Donahue

EarthSave Foundation
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
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The Donahue Show

"I think people should be angry when they're told to take fewer showers, and not wash their car, and not flush the toilet sometimes to save water. Now, we do need to save water, but over half the water used for all purposes in the United States is used to produce beef - to grow all the enormous amounts of grain that it takes to produce a little bit of beef. It's a very wasteful system. It turns out you save more water by not eating one hamburger than you would by not having a shower for two months."

- John Robbins

Back in 1990, a shy and reserved River agreed to take part in an edition of The Donahue Show as part of the preparations for the Earth Day awareness event of that year. Also taking part in the show are fellow show-business personalities Raul Julia and Lisa Bonet. The host, Phil Donahue, briefly mentions River's childhood and how he was brought up to care deeply for ecological issues from an early age.

From left to right: Lisa Bonet, Raul Julia,
River and John Robbins

Author, and President of the EarthSave Foundation, John Robbins soon joins them on stage and the host brings to the attention of his audience Robbin's book Diet For A New America. River takes the opportunity to speak very highly of it and describes the book as a useful resource for anyone interested in how environmental and animal-welfare issues are adversely affected by current dietary trends.

The group talks about cattle-farmers, government agencies and heavy industry that pollute the oceans but the four are keen to stress that they don't consider these groups as the "villains" and themselves as the "good guys". It's an unexpected concept and it's refreshing to see. Rather, they look upon these groups as the very people who can help to put things right. "Include them in the purpose," says Raul Julia. "It's no longer a matter of 'you or I' - it's a matter of 'you and me.'"

World-renowned Puerto Rican actor Raul Julia shared many of the same concerns that his younger, fellow guest-star did. The problem of world-hunger was a particularly important issue to Raul and something that he pledged his life to help eradicate. However, just four years after his appearance on this show he suffered a massive stroke whilst on a trip to New York. He died almost a year to the day after River.

Donahue, although initially skeptical, is very impressed by the heartfelt sincerity that his guests bring to their effort but is nevertheless overwhelmed by the shear size of the environmental problems being discussed. "But there is hope," states River. "We believe you, River. We believe you," replies the host who has quite obviously been brought around to his guests' way of thinking.

"Anything can be done when a critical mass of people get behind it."

- Raul Julia

River tries his hardest expressing the importance of environmental issues but as with so many other chat shows, this one too is never far from descending into petty arguments, shouting and cheap laughs. "What are your siblings' names?" asks the host. "Rain, Liberty, Summer, Joaquin," replies River dutifully. At which point though, the audience just laughs.

Undeterred, River and the other guests continue to valiantly attempt to get their message across. Overall, a great number of issues are discussed in the show including world-hunger, vegetarianism, deforestation and top-soil erosion. Ultimately though, it would appear that middle America has other issues that it would prefer to see addressed instead. One viewer, for example, telephones the show questioning whether or not River and Lisa should be taken seriously at all. The reason? Because of the clothes they are wearing.

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