Smoke from the raging wildfires near Los Angeles posed a vivid backdrop for a session revolving around an ambitious Showtime documentary about climate change.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar, "Vampire Diaries" star Ian Somerhalder, veteran producer Jerry Weintraub and former "60 Minutes" producer David Gelber promoted "Years of Living Dangerously," a docu-series premiering  April 13, which is Earth Day.

The project features a roster of celebrities and journalists traveling the globe to report about the hot-button topic of climate change. In addition to Schwarzeneggar, correspondents include Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Harrison FordMichael C. Hall and Lesley Stahl.

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Key to the appeal of the series will be having well-known people talking about a subject that is typically discussed by scientists in often-technical terms.

"There's a communications gap between the general public and the scientists talking about this issue," said Schwarzeneggar, who suggested that "scientists ought to take acting classes." He said actors will be able to communicate "the very simple messages" about why the subject is so important.

Weintraub and Gelber emphasized that the celebrities involved were chosen not only because of their star power but because they are already involved in environmental causes.

In addition to his immersion in climate change topics during his political career, Schwartzeggar said he had been particularly inspired by firefighters who risk their lives battling fires: "I've always wondered what kind of mentality they have."

Somerhalder said the use of social media by him and other young celebrities with huge followings will help get the message across. "I hope it really activates people," he said.

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