- - Sunday, April 8, 2012

Matt Damon is hunting for some “great character faces” for a feature film he is making with director Gus Van Sant said to be critical about fracking for natural gas.

In a notice seen Friday on the website of the Pittsburgh Film Office in Philadelphia, the casting team of “Promised Land” announced an open audition for paid extras on Saturday at a local convention center.

“We are especially searching for great character faces, farmer looks, senior citizens, baseball players, upscale men and women with formal wear, teens and kids,” it said.

“Promised Land” stars Mr. Damon - who Mr. Van Sant directed in “Good Will Hunting” - in a story he co-wrote about a businessman who “experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town,” the IMDb.com website said.

Filming gets under way April 23, according to a Facebook page set up by the casting team in Pennsylvania, where fracking for gas is under way.

Earlier this week, in the home stretch of their fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, the makers of pro-fracking film “Frack Nation” stated that “Promised Land” would be “an anti-fracking Hollywood blockbuster.”

Spokesmen for Mr. Damon and his project could not be reached for comment.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial process by which high-pressure injections of water, sand and chemicals are used to blast through rock to release oil and gas trapped inside.

Pennsylvania filmmaker Josh Fox raised concerns about fracking’s disputed impact on the environment, particularly underground sources of water, in his Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary “Gasland.”

Potential jurors in Hudson case asked about singer

Jennifer Hudson takes center stage in a questionnaire that potential jurors are being asked to fill out to determine if they will be allowed to decide whether or not a man is guilty in the slayings of the singer’s mother, brother and nephew.

Nine of the 66 questions released to the Associated Press and other media outlets Friday dealt with Miss Hudson’s career in movies, television and as an author.

Prospective jurors were asked if they have ever watched “American Idol,” the television show that brought Miss Hudson to fame, or if they saw “Dreamgirls,” the motion picture for which she won an Academy Award. They also were asked if they’d ever seen her perform or read her book, “I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down.”

Legal experts say the reason is simple: Attorneys need to get a sense of whether Miss Hudson’s fame could sway those who will ultimately be selected to sit on the jury.

All those television and movie appearances could create a familiarity that poses a danger to criminal defendants.

“You don’t want to get someone who is so simpatico with Jennifer Hudson and her plight, who feels like they are champions for Jennifer … and who wants to protect her or not disappoint her,” said Joseph Tacopina, a prominent defense attorney in New York.

Equally dangerous, and what the attorneys will certainly be looking for, are would-be jurors who say they don’t know who Miss Hudson is, despite living in her hometown, where she is extremely popular.

“They’re either from Mars or they’re being dishonest,” Mr. Tacopina said. “Either one is not a good thing.”

Joel Levin, a former federal prosecutor who was on the team that won a conviction of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, agreed that most of the concerns in such a case would come from the defense side of the aisle.

“Their concern is [jurors] think she’s great and bend over backwards because of who she is,” he said.

Miss Hudson is expected to regularly attend the trial of William Balfour, her sister’s estranged husband. He is charged in the slayings of Miss Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57; brother, Jason Hudson, 29; and nephew, Julian King, 7. Prosecutors also have indicated she could be called as a witness.

Heidi Klum files for divorce from Seal in L.A.

Heidi Klum moved to formally end her marriage Friday from singer Seal a little over two months after they separated.

The supermodel’s divorce filing in a Los Angeles court draws to a close a storybook romance that included numerous testaments to their affection for one another, including renewing their wedding vows annually and throwing elaborate Halloween costume parties.

The couple has four children together, including Miss Klum’s daughter from a previous relationship. They had been married for more than 6½ years when they announced their separation in January, vowing to keep their breakup amicable.

Miss Klum’s filing, which she signed Thursday, cites irreconcilable differences. It provides no details about their split, other than that they entered into a financial agreement after they were married on how to divide their assets.

The model and star of the TV competition series “Project Runway” is asking for sole physical custody of the children, with Seal getting visitation and joint legal custody.

3 ex-band members file suit against Chris Daughtry

Three of Chris Daughtry’s former band members are suing him, claiming he defrauded them out of proceeds from four songs that included music and lyrics they wrote together.

The News & Record of Greensboro reports bassist Ryan Andrews, drummer Scott Crawford and guitarist Mark Perry filed suit Thursday in Guilford County Superior Court.

The lawsuit accuses Mr. Daughtry of “constructive fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, unfair trade practices, and other deceptive and wrongful conduct.”

Mr. Daughtry posted a statement on his band’s website saying he was hurt by the accusations and that the songs listed in the lawsuit were written solely by him.

Mr. Daughtry reached stardom in 2006 when he placed fourth on “American Idol,” and recorded hits such as “Home,” “It’s Not Over” and “No Surprise.”

Compiled from Web and wire service reports

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