Last February, animal rights champion and noted vegan James Cromwell blasted CBS for its involvement in the grisly slaughter of a wild pig on an episode of Survivor: The Australian Outback. The Oscar-nominated Babe actor who told TV Guide Online at the time that the incident left him "appalled, outraged and disgusted" fired off a letter to Tiffany entertainment president Nancy Tellem expressing his objections.
Six months later, Cromwell seems to have settled his beef with the network. How else to explain his decision to go to work for CBS on the upcoming drama series Citizen Baines (airing Saturdays at 9 pm/ET beginning Sept. 22). "I want to be on CBS because I want people who watch the show to hear a different point of view, because I'm a vegan and I'm going to be a vegan on the show," he tells TV Guide Online in an exclusive interview. "And [viewers] are going to have to deal with that at some point.
"It isn't a process of standing out and saying, 'I'm right and you're wrong,'" adds Cromwell, who plays Baines's title role, a three-term senator who loses his bid for re-election. "It's about saying, 'Can we talk about what you're doing and look at it a different way, so that you can educate people that this is not how to behave.'"
The 61-year-old Emmy nominee (for his guest turn last season on ER) took his educational efforts public last month when he was arrested during a protest at a Wendy's restaurant in Virginia. He and five other activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were objecting to what they claim is the fast-food chain's ongoing abuse of animals at its factory farms. A court date is scheduled for Sept. 20 in Fairfax County, Va. some 3,000 miles from the Los Angeles soundstage where Baines is shot.
Should Cromwell be forced to make the cross-country trek a decision he says "depends on how hard Wendy's wants to push this" production on Baines would likely be hampered. "I think having me come at that particular time all that way for just trespassing would be a little vindictive on their part," says the 6'5" gentle giant, who will likely get slapped with a fine. "But I did break the law, and I understand you have to take responsibility for that."However, if Dave Thomas ends up taking a hard line, he should prepare for another serving of bad publicity. Winks the thesp: "I would use the opportunity to talk about [the issue] a little more for those who missed it."