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OneXOne event, Tanzania on Monday
  • Photos of Matt, Lucy, Ben and others at the OneXOne charity event in Toronto are from Yahoo and Getty Images. A brief report on the event is here, or here.

    Matt Damon, host of the One X One fundraiser, jumped into the fun to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for international charities for impoverished children by bidding on one of the lots himself last night.

    What started off as a ride with Lance Armstrong snowballed into a dinner prepared by supermodel Petra Nemcova and Mr. Damon's wife, Luciana, a private home concert from Wyclef Jean and tickets to an Elton John concert.

    CTVglobemedia head Ivan Fecan was also a winning bidder at $150,000, with Mr. Damon matching the amount.

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  • Matt spoke earlier in the day in interviews about his trip to Tanzania with Ben, starting Monday. First - quotes from an article at The Star:

    Matt Damon has described his past experience visiting Africa as "life-changing," stoking his passion to help and empower some of the world's most impoverished citizens. But when the actor returns to the continent, he'll have some high-profile company – courtesy of longtime friend Ben Affleck.

    The Oscar winners are scheduled to leave Monday for Tanzania to observe aid work being done in the country. Damon said it will be similar to a six-day trip to the continent last year, where he spent much of his time in Zambia.

    "We're just going to observe these programs and just try to learn," he said. "Our job is just to be quiet and listen and take notes and meet people and listen to peoples' stories."

    Damon had hoped to visit with refugees from Sudan's Darfur region in neighbouring Chad but said the trip fell through at the last minute. Throughout the summer, he has been actively involved in helping raise millions to support humanitarian efforts in the region, along with fellow Ocean's Thirteen stars Don Cheadle, George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

    Damon said participation in an event like the One X One benefit gala is a "no-brainer" for him.

    "This event is so great, and it's such a huge fundraiser," he said in an interview hours before the gala. "The people that show up, the Canadians that turn out for this are just real heavy hitters, and they're there to make an impact."

    Damon said he wants to broaden his involvement in humanitarian work, and hopes his daughters, Isabella and Alexia, can share in his journey.

    "It's very important to me to raise my kids with a broader understanding of the world, and I want them to come on a lot of these trips with me when they're older."

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  • And an interview at the Globe and Mail:

    Activist actor Matt Damon knows how to pack a lot into a day. And his nights.

    After a three-day whirlwind of activity during the Toronto Film Festival - where he hosted last night's OneXOne charity event, introduced a new documentary Running the Sahara and shared countless dinners and drinks with pals in town such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Don Cheadle - the Bourne Ultimatum star was scheduled to hop on a plane this morning to Africa.

    Mr. Damon conceded the contrast between the extreme poverty he sees in Africa and the excessive consumption in America is jarring. He said he deals with the incongruity by "completely compartmentalizing" the two extremes.

    "You can't start thinking in terms of what they don't have and we have because it becomes too outrageous.

    "But my wife and I, we think about it. And we talk about it. Neither my wife nor I grew up with money, so I think our relationship to money is pretty healthy in general. We're not big spenders, anyway. And I think that just has to do with our habits and our values, and appreciating a buck. We talk a lot about our kids, and how to best shape their values."

  • More details at the Globe and Mail on the Running the Sahara event Saturday:

    Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Don Cheadle come out in force to support Africa, a cause close to their hearts. They're all at the Royal Cinema for a private screening of the documentary Running the Sahara - narrated and co-produced by Damon - about three extreme marathoners who crossed six countries, and 7,200 kilometres, in 111 days.

    Damon takes to the stage to present the film, thanking music superstars Wyclef Jean (also in attendance) and Bono for supplying songs for the soundtrack. Bono planned to come to the screening, Damon says, but had to cancel to attend Luciano Pavarotti's funeral. Also warming seats at the screening was Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex. Later that night, Damon and his wife, and Canadian heartthrob Kevin Segers (The Jane Austen Book Club), showed up together at the CTV bash supporting the film.

  • The Harvey Milk film project Matt discussed at Deauville was officially announced at the Hollywood Reporter. Matt said his role was small, but he is expected to play Milk's killer, Dan White, opposite Sean Penn, who will play Milk.

    Sean Penn as openly gay '70s politician Harvey Milk and Matt Damon as his assassin? Yes, if Gus Van Sant has his way.

    Penn is attached to play Milk and Damon is attached to play Milk's killer, Dan White, in the director's long-gestating Milk biopic.

    Producer Michael London and his Groundswell Prods. are financing the film, set to be produced by Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks from a script by Dustin Lance Black ("Big Love"). The filmmakers are now in talks with a leading specialty division to launch the project. Once a deal is finalized, the team behind the as-yet-untitled feature hopes to begin production in San Francisco as early as December. The uncertain start date may affect Damon's participation.
  • 23 comments or Leave a comment
    Comments
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 10th, 2007 09:43 am (UTC) (Link)
    The One X One event looked amazing and seemed much bigger than last year. It's so nice for me to hear a celebrity talk sense on a really difficult and complex issue. I like the fact that Matt and Ben are going to Tanzania to observe and learn on this trip.

    What can sometimes happen is that donors have very specific ideas where they want their money spent, but this isn't always what is needed or required by those they're trying to help, and it can just turn into a vanity project and an ego boost for the donor, whilst doing little to change desparate lives.

    I think his way of dealing with the extremes of poverty and wealth is very healthy. Compassion without guilt is the best way I think, and it takes very little money to improve someone's life in a big way.

    A colleague I work with, his mother started her own hospital in The Gambia twenty years ago after seeing a report about the desparate situation there reported on the BBC. She's an ordinary housewife with no special skills but has built and raised funds to keep the hospital open for almost twenty years. It just shows what can be done if people care enough.

    I've also discovered that the BBC shows Arthur on their children's channel CBBC, so at some point in the future I'm sure Matt's episode will show up here.

    Thanks also for the news about Ultimatum being released in December in the US, I shall put in my pre-order now! It did feel a bit tragic wanting to see it a third time in the cinema.

    Thanks for all the work you do for us Matt fans. Coming onto your site everyday is a joy. Marcia

    P.S. Matt says he was poor growing up, but I thought his father was an investment banker or something? I know his parents divorced very young but surely he paid maintenance to his ex-wife, and also how did he get into Harvard? Did he get a scholarship?
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 10th, 2007 10:03 am (UTC) (Link)
    Thanks for your comments Marcia. Nice to know someone's out there!

    OneXOne certainly got lots more publicity this year, but none of the 'other' expected big names showed: Brad, George and Bono.

    Matt didn't get a scholarship to Harvard. His father worked in a few areas, including it's said real estate and investment banking, but eventually left that to raise money for non-profits, I think. So I think he may have certainly become more wealthy, but it wasn't easily earned.

    One of Matt's early paychecks went to paying off Kyle's college fees, but I don't know how he paid for his own college costs.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 10th, 2007 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)
    I'm still here too! Really appreciate all the updates.

    Surely the role of Dan White will be quite significant (I read up about him). If not, I wonder what Matt is going to do between now and April? Time off presumably for a little while....but 7 months off! I know he deserves it but it will be terrible without any new films coming out next year. Jan

    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 10th, 2007 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
    It does seem larger than the 'small role' Matt talked about.

    Matt says he's on a break until at least January. So maybe he does the Milk role then, but I don't think he'll end up doing Emerald City, which would also have to start around January. And move on to The Informant in April, which Matt says would be out by the end of 2008.

    It's possible. (The Fighter then moves even further down the list. Matt said in Deauville or Mexico that the script still isn't ready.)
    From: bmcampbe Date: September 11th, 2007 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
    Why do you think Matt would do this role and not do Imperial Life in the Emerald City?
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 11th, 2007 02:05 am (UTC) (Link)
    Matt's stated straight out a number of times (later in the press junkets) that he would not be doing Emerald City. It would be a lead role and would probably film for a substantial time overseas. Earlier in the press run he said it was a possibility, but it seemed to change at one point.

    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 10th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Dan White

    Matt should NOT do this role! Although he bears a physical resemblance to White, there is no way Matt can enhance his filmography by playing a shallow, police-authoritarian homophobe who killed not only Milk but murdered the Mayor of San Francisco because he wouldn't reappoint White to a Supervisor position from which White had just resigned. Thoroughly screwed up, there's little of any serious dramatic interest in a minor brainless figure who caused great damage but had the temerity to offer, in his courtroom defense, that he had become addled by eating Twinkies (an empty-calorie snack food). The Twinkies made him do it! You may have heard of the "Twinkies Defense"--that's what's left of Dan White. Please, Matt, don't sully yourself with this role!

    I.B.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 10th, 2007 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Dan White

    But it's a Gus Van Sant movie, not a huge role and co-starring with Sean Penn. I don't care either way about the subject matter, but think it will be a good movie.

    It's hardly a blockbuster, and doesn't pretend to be, and probably won't change anyone's attitude about the original events, except bring it back into the public consciousness.

    What are your concerns, I.B.?
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 11th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Dan White

    Van Sant doesn't always have the best judgment, but if as many people see this one as saw "Gerry" well, I guess it could just be another interesting experiment conveniently buried deep in the filmography. My concern for Matt is that he will waste the enormous cachet he's earned from character play like Hunting, Ripley, Wilson, and Bourne--all of whom struggle for redemption--even Ripley, though he fails, evokes a forlorn hope for the future. Dan White does not have the evil ferocity of Denzel in "Training Day". He is a senseless, self-involved, pitifully parochial character of no interest except for having fired his weapon in a petty rage. Nothing noble, nothing relatable, no polar tension in the character to stretch Matt (and us). Matt is far too great an actor to waste his talents on such a role. I realize others may disagree with my assessment, but I see it as one of those watershed mistakes some actors make that tilt their careers downwards. But--so be it. I guess Matt has signed on, so that's that. Naturally, I wish him the very best with it. Watch! They'll fictionalize the character, and Matt will win an Oscar! --along with Penn, who is undeniably one of the great actors in film.

    I.B.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 11th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Dan White

    I don't think he's signed on - timing and scheduling issues are still very much floating in regards to a couple of projects.

    It wouldn't be a small-scale Gerry project (I suspect), but a mid-range to $20 million film, so I doubt it would get submerged in the filmography. It's an interesting character piece in a small drama. I like it.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 11th, 2007 02:51 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Dan White

    Matt has such a "good guy" image, I wonder if it could be an attempt to keep from being type cast and allow him to play a broader range of characters.
    jjthomas10 From: jjthomas10 Date: September 11th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Dan White

    Jason Bourne is the only character Matt has played more than once. I don't think he's in danger of being typecast any more than Johnny Depp is for Jack Sparrow. Plus remember he wasn't a "good guy" in either "The Departed" or "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Heck not even Bourne can be considered a nice guy; he is, essentially, a serial killer.

    JJ--
    From: bmcampbe Date: September 11th, 2007 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Dan White

    I.B.:

    I don't think I understand your concerns either. It sounds like a very complex character. And of course Matt really loves Gus Van Sant. And Sean Penn is a great co-star. Sounds like a great role to me.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 15th, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Dan White

    I actually like the choice of Matt playing Dan White for the very reasons you don't like it, I.B. I think the casting of both Sean Penn as Milk and Matt as White is brilliant, because both parts are so against "type" -- I never would've thought of Penn to play Milk, but now that I've learned that's the plan, I can't wait to see the film (but then, I'm a huge Van Sant fan, too). And Matt playing White is an inspired choice, too, I think, and a fairly brave one for Matt.

    I mean, as you know, a lot of lead actors -- more "movie stars," really -- go through their entire careers far too obsessed with their own vanity and consistently distance themselves from parts, or projects, that they fear could sully their carefully cultivated reputations...and on the rare occasion such actors do take on a role they see as "risky," the less savory aspects of the character are usually either watered down or entirely written out for the sake of the star's public persona.

    I love how Matt's never been that way, at all, and that he seems to relish the opportunity to play against his all-American good-guy type, just as directors relish the opportunity to cast him in such parts. And as I think about it, the part of Dan White is almost tailor-made for Matt: a bland, white-bread, quietly handsome bureaucrat who has invested most of his life in cultivating a virtuous, all-American image, but who at his core is a seething homophobe. Matt's made his career practically owning this category of duplicitous characters, who seem one thing externally but are far more complex, conflicted, and even downright criminal beneath the surface.

    So I think it's really consistent (which is not to say redundant) for Matt to choose such a role, and a great choice for the movie. And I think Matt's bona fides within the gay community are such that gay viewers will applaud Matt for making a brave choice in playing the contemptible White while continuing to appreciate him for being so supportive of gay-friendly projects and gay artists (like Van Sant). Especially because I trust Van Sant's handling of this material implicity; he's made some clunkers, but on balance I think he's absolutely brilliant and one of the best directors working today.

    And for Matt, the chance to act opposite Sean Penn, in what could end up being one of Penn's best performances? Wow. I, for one, can't wait to see this -- I just hope it happens.

    - Jeff in Salt Lake City
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 16th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Dan White

    Thanks for your comments Jeff. Matt's participation sounds pretty doubtful at this stage, and I certainly hope he is able to take the role.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 10th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Arghhhhh. I missed seeing Matt at ONEXONE by 0.01 seconds. I'll never ever forget this.
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 10th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Was it an accidental miss by coming on the scene late, or were you trying to get to the particular event? Just curious.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 11th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)
    is matts wife from pakistan? she looks from the middle east..
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 11th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)
    Matt's wife was born in Argentina.
    From: (Anonymous) Date: September 11th, 2007 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)
    from argentina? she really looks from the middle east...was she really a bar attendant from miami?
    mattdamoncolumn From: mattdamoncolumn Date: September 11th, 2007 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
    When Matt met her she was working as a bartender at Miami club Crobar.

    From: (Anonymous) Date: August 18th, 2008 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)

    ........

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!
    From: (Anonymous) Date: July 18th, 2009 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)

    jad


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